Monday, April 30, 2012

Crocheting for Peace

It all started when I stumbled across a pattern for a crocheted peace sign. I thought that it was an interesting idea, and I had to try it out. But I wasn't pleased with my results.

I followed the directions exactly. But this doesn't look quite right. I ripped out and redid the thing several times, but this is as good as it got. So, I decided to tweak the pattern a bit.  

Better, but not quite there. The three prongs at the bottom seem to be too far down.  

I put the pattern aside. I didn't like the proportions of what I got. But I couldn't leave it alone forever. I thought about it and wondered if there was some way I could make it work.  

I examined the peace sign. I read somewhere (not on Wikipedia, but that's easier to find), that the symbol stands for "nuclear disarmament" using N & D in semaphore (which fits from what I remember of semaphore from Girl Scouts). 

Then came some calculations. How could I get the N of the peace sign to the right angle? How long should that D line be? The second question was the easiest. Once I knew how big I was going to make the circle, then it was just a matter of using the formula for circumference to figure out how long the diameter should be.  

(Who says we'll never use that stuff again? The formula for circumference is C=πd. I choose C. π is approximately 3. Then d is easy to find.)  

After some thought and math, I came up with a different plan.  

Not quite. It's a little lopsided. Some of that might be my lack of crochet skills, but I played with it a bit more.  

And I'm done. For now.  

What do you think? Should I keep at it? Or should I give up this idea as unworkable? I'm wavering.  

Friday, April 27, 2012

A Visitor

I was so glad to see the end of 4th period. They were loud. They talked over the video. And once they "finished" the rest of their assignment (by randomly guessing), they were all over the place.

5th period started off so much nicer. They listened while I gave instructions. (That's all I ask, really.) And then I took roll.

I usually do a head count after taking roll. I compare the number of students I have in class to the number I have marked present. If they match, all is well. 5th period's numbers didn't match. I should have had 28 in class, but I counted 29.

That's when I spotted him.

The boy wore a black t-shirt with red lettering on it (some nonsense acronym I suspect). Under the t-shirt he had a polo shirt collar sticking out. I remembered the outfit. From 4th period.

I checked 4th period's "Take Attendance by Photo". Yep, he was from 4th period. Why he was still in class for 5th...

I haven't had "visiting student" issues in a long time. That's when a student who is not enrolled in the class sneaks in and hangs out. Usually, these students make as much mischief as possible. Other than that, I'm not sure what they get out of it. They are ditching whatever class they should be in. And if caught the punishment is usually a suspension.

As I went to start the video, I approached the boy. I asked him what he was still doing there.

He got all flustered. He said something about needing to talk to or to give something to the student he was seated next to. Then more in actions than in words he claimed that he zoned out and forgot to leave and go to his next class. Until I talked to him, he was working on something in his notebook (and causing no problems).

He quickly packed up his stuff. The class got wind of our conversation (I tried to keep it just between him and me), and they thought this was great entertainment. The boy left, apparently to go to his next class.

So, he was either very absent minded, or he was making up some excuse because he got caught. He claimed the former. It seemed like it was the former.

But I left his name for his teacher, just in case.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012


There was a warning in the lesson plan: note the names of any unproductive students. I warned 4th period of this. It was the newspaper class at the continuation high school. They all started out working on their articles.

For about 20 minutes.

Then one student was looking up the Illuminati online. (Don't even get me started on that.*) Another slipped over to the Forever 21 website and started looking at dresses. Then a third wondered how much it would cost to get a tux for prom, and off he went to find out. Next thing I knew, none of them were working on their articles.

Then their teacher walked in.

Ms. M was at some training or other at the district office. The continuation high school is practically right next door. So, when they broke for lunch, it wasn't that far to go for Ms. M to pop in.

The students were all on the computers facing away from the door. Ms. M was not pleased to see them not on task.

She stopped by to pick up finished essays. She scolded her class about not being on task. She reminded them that the paper was to be finished in a day or two, and she needed their finished articles. Then she left.

Did they get back to work? Of course not. But to be fair, they had typed in most of their articles before they lost focus.

*I keep hearing about this Illuminati thing from the students. They think it's real. Various sites do not help dispel this myth. (An example.)

Tuesday, April 24, 2012


Here's another post from the way-back files. I originally posted this on May 22, 2007. 

I've been spending a lot of time at the continuation high school. Last Thursday and Friday I was covering the government teacher. And so since I was there on Thursday, I got to participate in the fun that is the buy out.

On Thursdays, if the students have been attending all their classes all week (and no tardies) and if they have been productive, they get to "buy out" and not have to come to school on Friday. Which means that all the "good" kids are gone on Fridays, which makes for an interesting day. But that's a different story.

So, I was given a list on this Thursday of who could and who could not buy out. Each period had maybe 4 names of those who could, and they still had to do enough work for my taste on Thursday to get me to sign their little paper. Pretty straightforward.

At the beginning of 1st period I got a whole slew of buy outs, and I went to each student who was on my "no buy out" list and told them this. There were only a couple students. And they were not happy. "I'm not going to do my work to punish Mr. H," one student informed me.

Um, you're not punishing him. I tried to explain this but got nowhere. Oh well.

One thing I learned from this experience--whenever I have a list of those who can't buy out, I don't tell them until the end of the period.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Extra Credit Homework

On Friday I was back at the continuation high school. English class. They were working on essays.

It seems like every time I cover this teacher lately, the class is writing some essay. Not that I mind. I think I know enough grammar that I can be of help to them. And it's good that they're practicing their writing. I just find it curious.

The class had been working on the essay for the week. The teacher left them some extra credit if they were already finished. They should have all had something to work on, she said.

I was a bit surprised when most of them did, in fact, work. Many finished their essays and turned them in. Many of them asked for the extra credit as well.

Extra credit at the continuation high school isn't like extra credit elsewhere. This particular assignment was worth a half credit, as in one half of one of the 40 credits they need to complete in English to graduate. This may not seem like a lot, but by the time they get to this English class, they've got more than 20 of those credits already.

And if they're close to graduating, that half credit can make all the difference.

Several of them chose not to do the assignment. In 6th period, the conversation turned to Jersey Shore. I walked over and stood over the boys. Didn't they want to do the extra credit assignment?

One of the boys told me he'd do it at home. The continuation high school doesn't really give homework as most of the students wouldn't do it. (If they did homework, they wouldn't be at the continuation high school.) The boy explained that at home his sister would force him to watch more Jersey Shore, and he didn't want to do that.

I didn't believe him, but as the class was pretty mellow, I wasn't too concerned. At the end of the period as they were packing up, I noticed that the boy wasn't taking the assignment with him. I wasn't surprised, but I decided to say something anyway.

"Oops, I almost forgot."

He surprised me and actually took the assignment with him. Now, whether or not he'll do it...

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Dark Consciousness

I've been watching Through the Wormhole again. (I have several waiting on my DVR. They help me fall asleep.) Finally, I have an idea what this dark matter stuff is all about. This got me thinking.

Mostly, I was thinking I needed a good question to post.

They don't know what dark matter is. But matter is just a form of energy. And if I let my imagination run wild, I can think up things that it might be that would make an interesting story.

What if dark matter is kind of like the observer in an experiment? A consciousness. An awareness. What if dark matter can perceive?

And I'll leave it at that. I hope you're having a good Thursday.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

No Ice Cream Today

I'm not much of a cook. I'm not terrible, but I'm not gourmet either. This post (from May 8, 2007) is one of my more spectacular failures.  


I don't know why, but my ice cream maker was calling to me last week. I saw this great ice cream recipe about two years ago on Good Eats, and I've been itching to try it out ever since. I just never got around to it. So, I figured that now was the time.

I got the ice cream maker out of the garage, cleaned it off, and found that the motor still ran. Then it was just a matter of getting ingredients.

I bought the stuff I didn't have. I meant to get to it over the weekend, but I got sidetracked by a headache. Sure, I could have put it off again, but since two of the ingredients are half-and-half and heavy cream, I didn't really have all that large a window. So, on Monday I broke down and did it.

I left the mixture overnight in the fridge, and today I put it in the ice cream churner. I followed the directions. The last direction stated that the thing should stop churning after 40 minutes, but if it didn't to stop it after 50 minutes. So, at 50 minutes (and change) I pulled the plug. I opened the machine. And what did I find? The same liquid I started with.


I'm going over it in my mind. What did I do wrong? I followed the recipe. The liquid is correct. I'm pretty sure. So it has to be the ice cream maker. It must be defective. Though, this wasn't my first time using it. Okay, so it's been several years, but it worked just like before.

It has to be the machine. I'm not that inept a cook. So, into the trash the machine goes. With doubts. And I can only dream of what could have been.

It was the machine. That Christmas I asked for a new ice cream maker, and I broke in my new toy the following January. That ice cream recipe is really good. I've made it several times since, and this ice cream maker still works just fine.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Another Purse

Last week I mentioned that I started a second purse to fix the perceived mistakes of the first. This past week I was able to finish that second purse.

The first modification I made was to the shape of the thing.

Those big square bites in the center? That gives the purse depth. (I saw how to do this on a sewing show. I can't find a good explanation online, but this kind of gives the idea in pictures.)  

Once the form was knit, then I sewed up the seams.  

The whole thing is kind of a mess, but that was deliberate. I made it big and open so that it would felt. Once the form was finished, I put it in a hot machine wash with towels until it felted. Then I attached the strap and got my final product.  

I had to do a little tweaking. The strap was too long, so I trimmed it down. Then the magnetic closure wasn't attached really well, so I had to take that off and redo. But as of this moment, I'm happy with it.  

Although, it's a bit larger than I like. I may have to make another one.  

Friday, April 13, 2012

Ten Things

I watch a lot of TV. I have to have something on in the background while I'm knitting.

I watch the usual prime time shows, and I watch shows that I won't tell you about because I refuse to admit that I watch them. Recently, I stumbled across a new show that The History Channel's H2 is presenting called 10 Things You Don't Know About.

Every half hour episode tackles a new topic. While some of the facts they present don't surprise me, most of the time they are true to the title. In the eight episodes I've seen, I already had heard maybe two of the "things" before (one for sure).

(I didn't know this one.)

And here's the 30 second commercial about the series...

I find stuff like this fascinating. And it's nice to learn something while I'm knitting my nephew a stuffed owl for his upcoming 2nd birthday.

Do you have any good shows to recommend? Or would you rather hear about my Vampire Diaries obsession?

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Mistaken Identity

It's spring break for my district, so I'm reposting something from the now defunct old blog. This post is from May 4, 2007.  

6th period. I had 7th graders today.

This boy who was sitting in the front row told me that I had gotten him into trouble last year. I had several problems with this statement, but the main one was that it wasn't me. It couldn't have been me. I don't sub elementary school.

The little ones scare me. I avoid elementary school. I have never covered a 6th grade class. Ever. I've covered one 3rd grade and one 5th grade--only because the sub caller begged and I was cornered. But that was ages ago.

I get mistaken for other people all the time. There are two teachers that everyone says I look like (I've met them, and I don't see the resemblance). But I generally know if they mean it was actually me or if they're mistaking me for someone else. My memory may not be perfect, but it's pretty good.

I informed the boy that it wasn't me. He argued with me about it. He insisted. I told him he was wrong. And since the class was really getting into it, I cut it off right there and got into the lesson plan.

If it hadn't've been crazy, I might have gotten into another problem I had with the statement. I don't "get" people into trouble. They do. I only report the behavior. But that's a complaint for another day.

I still haven't ever covered a 6th grade class, and since the last time I covered an elementary class things went very, very wrong, I don't think I'm going to get the opportunity in the near future at least. But I don't mind that so much.

Monday, April 9, 2012

The Unending Purse Project

I've been purse knitting again.

It's kind of a long story, and it starts in January of last year. I knit a purse from a pattern I liked, but I didn't like the resulting purse (seen here). I tried again, making this purse. This one was slightly better, but I had some issues with it (it was a bit too large, the strap was too long, and the zipper looked like it was installed by me). I decided to try again.

I knit the thing:

Felted it:

But it wasn't quite right. I even knew this at the time. But it was past time for me to start my Christmas knitting, so I had to wait and ponder. How was I going to do it the next time?  

I finally got started on the new purse in March. Once I got going, it knit up pretty quickly. Then, as I was just about ready to assemble and felt the thing, I found that my strap solution wasn't going to work.  

I didn't fret too long, however. Just as I saw what wasn't going to work, I saw a way to work it differently. At the same time, I figured out how to rework this purse with a different strap. I had just seen a crocheted strap on Knitting Daily, and I started on that right away.  

On Friday, I finished that strap, cut off the old strap, and attached the new: 

The color is a little off, but the purse feels so much better. The old strap was way too bulky. This strap is lighter. I think I like it.  

On Saturday I was able to felt the new purse. I'll post pics when that purse is completely finished. (It takes a couple days to dry, and then I'll need to sew on some hardware. And I might decide to line it.)  

Here's hoping that this one is the one. At last.  

What do you think? Am I too much of a perfectionist? Should I just go out and buy myself a purse?  

Friday, April 6, 2012

Unencumbered by Stuff

Back, ages ago, when I was a high school student, I used to wish for a day when I wouldn't have to carry anything to school. No books. No pencils. No paper. Absolutely nothing.

I was never able to do this. Even my very last day of school was filled with finals, so I had to carry writing utensils. And I couldn't not bring my yearbook around for everyone to sign.

Nowadays, I can get some semblance of this when I am asked to cover an extra period. I will leave my school bag in the room I'm in for the day, and I'll walk around campus unencumbered by stuff. It's a free feeling, and I enjoy it immensely.

Thursday was the last day of the quarter, so it was a minimum day. I expected a class filled with random movie. Instead I was to administer the district-mandated quarterly benchmark exam.

I have done this sort of thing before, so I knew the drill. I was a bit surprised that the teacher hadn't left me any #2 pencils as many students forget to have one on hand, but there was nothing to be done at that point (I don't carry extras). I dove in and hoped for the best.

The first class trickled in, and everyone had their usual school stuff except for one girl. She was dressed in sweats, and she carried nothing with her. The other students asked where her backpack was. She told them she left it at home. It was the last day of the quarter; no one was doing anything.

Guess again.

As I had already passed out their answer sheets, they knew immediately what was on the agenda for the day. The girl had to scramble to find a pencil. She asked me, of course, and I told her what I told the other five students who asked before her. She did what those other students had done as well--she found a classmate to borrow from.

This is why I never went a day supply-less when I was in school. No matter how sure I was that we were doing nothing, I knew that one teacher would give us actual work. One always did.

Did you ever go to class supply-less? Did you ever wish to?

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Judging Yourself

What if we had no idea what anyone else thought of us?

Well, really, we don't. We can't know for certain what is in anyone else's heart. We may deduce certain things by how people react to us, look at us, talk to us, but we can't be sure that it's about us. (If I have a disgusted look on my face, it might be because I just read something that bothered me and not in reaction to a person who just walked by me.) The only way we know what someone thinks of us is when they tell us what they think of us.

Of course, what anyone else thinks of us is not really about us. It's about them. How you judge someone else is more about your belief system, your background, and your own self image than it is about who you're judging. Most judgment is a projection of some sort.

But I'm getting away from my point. What if you didn't know what anyone thought of you? What if every negative, judgmental, and belittling thought they had about you was completely blocked from your perception? Would it make a difference to you?

Theresa Milstein posted a link to this article on Facebook, and after a day of trying to get through to the end (the site keeps crashing due to the traffic, I think), I finally was able to read it. It got me thinking, and this is where my thoughts went. (It was a long and strange train of thought. I blame the Solitaire.)  

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Written Excuses

It's time to go back into the vaults and see what I can come up with. Today's selection was first posted on April 24, 2007. 

It was one of those video days. The 10th graders were watching Julius Caesar (they're reading the play as a class), and I needed something to do so that I didn't do something drastic as they were not paying attention to the TV.

The teacher had this stack of letters on his desk. From what I could gather, they had some major essay assignment that many of them did not do. As punishment, or maybe as follow-up, the teacher gave them all detention and made them write letters explaining why they did not do the assignment. I had some time, so I flipped through them.

It reminded me of the time that I had a group of seniors who were just awful. Their teacher made them write me letters of "apology". I actually got them. And it was a stack of excuses and it-wasn't-mes. It was amazing how many of them were not at fault. I must have been imagining the bad behavior, then.

Anyway, these letters were similar in repetition. Several of them explained in detail how they did not have access to a computer, or rather, they had access, but their printers were out of ink. One student explained that he/she went over to an aunt's, and only after doing the work the cousin said that the computer had no printer.

A couple were more honest. One student talked of how he/she (I didn't look at the names as they were under the paperclip) just didn't want to do the assignment and he/she didn't think he'd/she'd get into trouble over it (taking the "F" was acceptable, though). And another student talked of plain old procrastination.

After about a dozen or so of these I got bored. It was the same whine over and over. And the grammar was a mess as well (you'd think that for the English teacher they'd try to make an effort--maybe they did).

Sometimes they just make me feel tired all over.

I think I still have those letters of apology somewhere. I should go and look...

Monday, April 2, 2012

A Card in an Orange

Oh, how I hate assemblies. I thought I might get out of this one, but alas, I had to go. It wasn't as bad as some of them--they had a "motivational speaker" who called himself a mentalist--but it was 7th graders only, so I spent most of my time staring down students who were misbehaving.

I wasn't the only one. All the teachers in the gym were busy moving students who would not calm down.

The speaker called for volunteers. In his final bit, he blindfolded a student, blindfolded himself, and then did a card trick. He pulled out a machete and he was going to pick a card out of the air, but the student threw the cards too soon, so when the guy stabbed, he was only stabbing air.

It was pretty funny and probably planned.

I was a bit surprised when that volunteer was in my 5th period class. (I shouldn't have been as the 7th grade isn't that vast.) I had bigger issues to deal with, so I didn't mention that I recognized the boy from the assembly. He brought it up.

The boy told me that he almost got stabbed. I told the boy I was there, and the machete was nowhere near his vicinity at any time. The boy didn't believe me. He claimed that his volunteering was dangerous.

The conversation then turned to an orange. The picked card ended up in an orange that the speaker cut open with that machete. They tried to figure out how the card got in there. He must have inserted the card at some point. But the boy could attest that he had examined the orange and no card marks were on the outside.

Then they all wanted to know: what happened to the orange? They each wanted to eat the orange. The boy asked the speaker if he could have it. And when everyone found out that the orange did not get eaten by anyone, all considered that a huge waste.

7th graders. They go off on the weirdest tangents.