Thursday, August 30, 2012

Placebo or Not?

A couple weeks ago, Deepak Chopra wrote an article for SF Gate about the placebo effect. And it got me thinking...

(It's Thursday, after all.)

What if we could cure diseases using "sugar pills"?

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

What Should I Make Next?

I finally got around to making a crocodile stitch water bottle carrier for my shop.

I know it's been nearly two months since I said I was going to, but I got a little distracted by the barefoot sandals. Now that summer is winding down, it's time to focus on other things. (I wonder if anyone would appreciate hand knitted Christmas tree ornaments?)

Anyway, as I worked on the water bottle carrier, I thought about the other use I make of the small mesh bag. Frozen yogurt carrier.

From time to time, I pick up a quart of frozen yogurt from a frozen yogurt shop. It seemed like a waste to carry those home in bags that I immediately threw out as I had no other use for them. I have reusable bags for the grocery store. Why not have one (or five) for the frozen yogurt shop?

So, I had to make one up with the crocodile stitch.

scaly frozen yogurt carrier
Ran out of yarn half way through. Again. Whoops.
Which leads to my questions for you. Do you go out and buy quarts of frozen yogurt? Would you consider buying such a cute carrier for those times that you do? Should I stick to water bottle carriers? Or should I move on to Christmas knitting?

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

The Repercussions of the Note

From time to time I hear about what happens the next day after I sub a class. This was one of those times. This was originally posted on October 1, 2008. 

I was back covering the teacher that I had covered on Monday. It was pretty much a replay of Monday. This I expected.

I do leave notes for the teacher. I leave names. I leave funny incidents. And when I'm sure a student is lying to me, I make sure to write down what they said and who it was that said it. If they're not lying, no harm done. If they are lying...

So, on Monday, three students told me that they had no work to do in the class. I wrote their names down along with the quote. On Tuesday the teacher found me (it's not a big campus; I wasn't hard to find) and told me that those three were in trouble. They did have work to do, and they knew it.

Upon further discussion with the teacher, I told him that I knew that the students were lying, and that I get such things all the time. The teacher appreciated my note. Then he thought he should use the whole note thing to his advantage.

During one of the afternoon classes, a student asked me why I had written down his name and snitched on him. He told me that his teacher had come right up to him and busted him for something or other and "why did you play me like that?"

I wasn't sure of this student's name. I didn't remember what he could have done. But whatever the teacher had called him on had been accurate, and remembering that the teacher had said he was going to use my note to his advantage, I played along.

I informed the student that I did not "snitch". I am a teacher. I tell the regular teacher what happened in his class during his absence. That is not "snitching". That is reporting.

I wonder what the student did. Nah, maybe I don't.

Monday, August 27, 2012

On the First Try

A couple weeks ago, I posted about the difficulties I had getting a crocheted vest started. Things went along nicely until I discovered that I made another mistake. This time I didn't have to rip the whole thing out and start over. I only had to rip out six or seven rows.

I've been plugging along on this thing for a couple weeks now. And I got to the point where the armhole went. I took my time measuring, thinking, and counting.

I got to the next row, and everything came out even. A few rows later, it still looks good. Whew.  

Yeah, I just wanted to say out loud on the blog that I only had to do the armhole once. I may be getting the hang of this thing.  

(I didn't just jinx myself, did I?)  

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Productive Psychopaths

Lately, I've had some time to watch some of the shows that I've accumulated on my DVR. The other day, I watched a show called Are You Good or Evil? (The link takes you to YouTube with the doc broken down into 4 parts. It's interesting, but I don't expect you to actually devote an hour to watching the whole thing.) It was on The Science Channel, but it doesn't look like it's on the schedule in the near future.

Because I am who I am, I immediately connected this show to two other things. The first was a doc called The Corporation. The link takes you to a synopsis which kind of goes over where I'm going with this. And the second thing I thought about was this recent article from io9.

There are all sorts of thoughts swirling around me about all this. But it's Thursday. And my goal is to boil this down to a thought-provoking question. Which one should I choose? (I can save the others for other weeks.)

What if we had no corporations? What sort of world would we live in then? Where would the psychopaths end up?

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

What Do You Think of These Queries?

August Query Extravaganza

This is workshop week for the query contest over at Unicorn Bell. 26 brave souls have submitted their queries, and all they ask is for your feedback. If you have a moment, take a look at one or two (or 26) and let them know how they can make them better.  

Here's the list with direct links: 
  1. Relic
  2. Golden Dawn
  3. Casualties of Work
  4. The Legacy of the Eye
  5. What Silence Heard
  6. The Proper Way to Say Goodbye
  7. Bound
  8. Running Down the Dragon
  9. The Curse Merchant
  10. Times None
  11. Finding Meara
  12. The Refugee
  13. And Jakob Flew the Fiend Away
  14. Let My Life Be Proof
  15. ...
  16. Tagestraum
  17. Darkling
  18. Joshua's Tree
  19. Soul Driver
  20. Wish
  21. Revival: The Donald Braswell Story
  22. Who is Audrey Wickersham?
  23. On Common Ground
  24. The Very First
  25. The Eldritch Tales
  26. The Curiosity
  27. Race to Butch Cassidy's Gold
The finals are next week. Help them get these queries ready for judging.  

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Career Survey

Perhaps I shouldn't say this, but I have favorite students. This girl was one of them. I originally posted this on November 14, 2007. She graduated in due course, and I haven't seen her in a while. I hope she's doing well.

"Maybe I should put down 'prostitute'," the girl said.

This perked up my ears. I inquired further. The students were supposed to be doing this careers survey thingy. One of the questions had them listing careers and how these careers fit into the three criteria that they had already listed as being most important to them. This is the question the girl was referring to when she said the above.

I was against. She was kidding. She wanted to write down something that would get a rise out of the person correcting the assignment. I got that immediately, but I wasn't so sure that the person who was correcting the assignment would see the joke. The girl agreed with me. She figured that such an answer would blow up in her face.

So, the discussion turned to other careers that would be twisted enough to make the girl feel like she was playing with the assignment but wouldn't come back to haunt her. Taxidermist. Mortician. Artist. Artist?

"What's wrong with being an artist?" I asked.

The girl explained that she actually did want to be an artist. This was a train of thought that I encouraged. If she wants to be an artist, then why didn't she just do the assignment as given? Explore becoming an artist.

That would be too much like doing the assignment, I guess.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Blast from the Past

The other day as I was flipping through the summer issue of Interweave Crochet I came across their "Fast & Fabulous" project. It stopped me cold. My mouth dropped open. I almost fell out of my seat.

I remember those rings. I had a stash of them as a child. A quick search of my stuff, and I found them...

No, I did not make these. They had been created by a relative, probably Gram-Mavis, my great-grandmother, the one who taught me to knit.  

I didn't much like these rings. I'm not really a ring person, and they were large and rather busy.  

But there was the pattern. It wasn't beyond my capabilities. It might be fun to try. So, I went out in search of materials.  

The beads were pretty easy to find. I already possessed the needed hook (I inherited all of Gram-Mavis' tools when she passed away, so I rarely have to buy hooks or needles). But the "stretch elastic jewelry thread" was not in store. The craft store had elastic beading cord, so I got that.  

Turns out beading cord won't work. It's too large. The recommended hook is way too small, and the cord doesn't knot, so the first bead easily slips off. So, I went online in search of this elusive beading thread.  

According to the designer, this should be easy to find at any craft store. Yet, all the craft stores I checked did not have this. Perhaps I'm just in the wrong part of the country? A general Google search turned up nothing as well.  

I was disappointed. I thought this would be the perfect project to post about here with pictures of the finished product. Instead, all I have is a great idea but no way to get it done. Big sigh.  

So, I ask you: have you seen stretch elastic jewelry thread? Where should I look to obtain such an item? If you know where to find it, I'll make you a ring.  

Friday, August 17, 2012

Remember Your Reusable Bags

I was at the grocery store the other day. The woman whose car was parked next to mine was unloading her groceries piece by piece into her car as I plopped my two bags into my trunk. 

I don't recall what the woman said that started the conversation. If she hadn't said anything, I wouldn't have commented.

About a year ago (actually, just over a year ago starting August 1, 2011) a neighboring city (where I do all of my grocery shopping) enacted a plastic bag ban. So, we are required to either bring our own bags or pay 10 cents per bag for paper bags. I had been using reusable bags for a couple years prior to this, so it was not a big change for me.  

The woman must have said something about the whole plastic bag ban. I said that the easiest way to remember bags was to leave them in the car all the time. That's why I always have them on hand when I go to the store.  

The woman replied that she hadn't had a chance to wash her bags. Then she launched into a long complaint about reusable bags harboring bacteria and the dangers therein. As she talked, I thought: 
  1. Bacteria is everywhere. That's what we have an immune system for. (I like George Carlin's explanation here, but warning: the language is rated R.) 
  2. Isn't there bacteria on the stuff we buy. 
  3. I've seen the checkers scrub down the conveyor at the check stands. They have the wipes for the shopping carts. Is there really that big a risk?
But mostly what I thought was that this was all an excuse. Because, when we really don't want to do something, we complain and find excuses. (I see it at school all the time.) So what I did was stand there and nod and hope that she would finish soon.  

Then she launched into a complaint that with no plastic bags at stores, now she had to buy more trash bags. She made a good point. I too used the bags to line my trash cans at home. And as she finished up her tirade, she talked of taking her shopping to another city.  

As I drove home, I thought about this woman spending so much energy being angry over this plastic bag ban. It can be an annoyance, but that's as much thought as I usually expend on it. And this reminded me that in the end, we are completely responsible for how we react to any given situation.  

It's easy to get caught up in the injustice or the idiocy of the world. We can spend all our time railing against it. Getting angry. Or we can choose to see that things are pretty good most of the time, and we can put forth positive steps towards making positive changes in the world. 

It's all in how you choose to look at something.  

So, on my drive, as I thought about this woman, I was grateful to her for reminding me of this. She chooses to be angry about the plastic bag ban. I choose to remember to leave my bags in the car (and wash them on occasion). And I was grateful to her for giving me a post topic, for until that encounter, I had nothing to write about.  

What are you grateful for today?  

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Replacing Wars?

While I enjoyed the Olympics, I'm glad they're over. The first week is great; by the second week I get a little fatigued trying to keep up with all the different events. But the Olympics kind of got me thinking.

I heard that groan.

Anyway, it's Thursday, so here's my strange story idea for the week:

What if we didn't fight wars? What if we solved international disputes with a sporting contest? 

It wouldn't have to be something as grand as an Olympic games. Perhaps just a basketball tournament or a decathlon.

What would that be like? What sort of world would do that? Would it help or hinder international relations?

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

The Rush

School doesn't start around these parts until September. Well, all except the continuation high school which started a couple weeks ago (last week and a half of July, I believe). So, while I was not surprised to get called to sub, I was surprised by a call on Monday in the afternoon to sub right away.

Apparently, I can be out the door in about 15 minutes if I don't have to worry about waking up and stuff.

They've changed the reentry class a bit this year. Now, the majority of the work is done on computers. My job was to initial every time a student finished a section. Which meant the majority of my time was spent watching them work.

On days like these, I like to have reading material to pass the time.

I'd get up, walk the room, and sit. Then I'd read for a bit, looking up every couple paragraphs to make sure I wasn't needed.

The room was quiet. No one needed me. I read. Then I heard a snapping. I looked up to find five hands in the air. Oops.

How did I miss five students needing me all at the same time? Did they all finish at the same time? Seems likely, as I didn't think I was that immersed in my magazine.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Seven Joses

Jose is a popular name, but I've never duplicated this particular day. This was originally posted on October 30, 2007.

The teacher I covered yesterday and today is also the boys soccer coach. So, 6th period I was out on the field "supervising".

One of my duties is to take roll. This I delegated to two of the older boys on the team.

I was watching over them as they went through the roll yesterday. I barely noted it when they called out for two different Joses (Jose is a popular name around here). It was at about the fifth that I started to wonder. Exactly how many Joses were on this team?

Seven. I counted.

There were 55 students on the roll sheet. That works out to nearly 13%. Nearly 13% of the soccer team is named Jose.

Oh, and I got to say three words that I never thought I'd ever say (as I avoid covering P.E. classes as much as I can): "Take a lap".

Another popular name was Brittany. Once I covered an 8th grade class with four Brittanies, and each girl spelled her name differently. 

Monday, August 13, 2012

Getting Past the First Row

I saw this vest a while back. Isn't it pretty? It's just the sort of thing that my wardrobe needs. And bonus, the yarn called for in the pattern is a yarn that I wanted to use but I didn't have a project for.

I got the yarn (birthdays are wonderful things), and last week I was ready to start the thing. I made my swatch, found that my gauge was bigger than the gauge of the pattern, and I made the mathematical adjustments needed so that I wouldn't end up with a vest that would be way too huge for me. I made my cast on chain, and I started in.

After working five or so rows, I noticed something. I forgot to take into account that openwork mesh tends to grow. I had made the thing about five inches too long.

Easy enough. I ripped the thing out and started over.

The first row is a set up row. Because it's mesh, every other stitch is skipped. As long as I chained the correct number of chains, my last worked stitch should be in the last chain. Unfortunately, after ripping out five rows and reworking the first row, my count was off by one.

I had one chain hanging out. It looked like this.
Sure, I could just ignore it. It's not that big a deal. I could even hide it, I suppose. But I just started the thing, and I could at least start out right. I ripped it out again and started over.

Third time working the first row, and it came out even. I started to work the second row, but I noticed something wrong. The piece didn't look right. It looked too short.

I counted. I measured. It couldn't be! I was off by 10 stitches.

This ripping out and starting over is getting old.

I chained 10 more stitches. Worked the first row...

I was off by one. Again.

Let's just say that it was a good thing I was alone. I put the yarn and hook aside. I consoled myself with brownies. Deep breath, and I tried it One. Last. Time.

It was a good thing that the one last time came out even. I think I might have lost it if it didn't. Into row 2, it was time to measure just to make sure...

Nah. If it's wrong now, I'll give it to someone it'll fit.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Wake Up Shake

It's been a while since I wrote one of these...

Tuesday had been a warm day, so I had everything open when I went to bed. I was buried in a book. The Olympics were on in some nearby house, and the sounds of cheers drifted in my window. Not loud enough to disturb. Comforting, sort of.

Then the bed shook. I assumed that the cat was fidgeting again, so I turned to hiss at her. She was still, looking at me with wide eyes. Well, if it wasn't the cat, then there was only one other thing it could be.

I turned on the TV. It's been affixed to channel 4 since the Olympics began. I knew they weren't going to break in with this minor news, so I flipped to channel 7. They were talking of something else. So, over to channel 2 I went, and the news anchors had just started discussing the earthquake they felt in the studio. Success!

I got the pertinent details, and I went back to my book.

I stayed up way too late reading, so the follow up earthquake acted as an alarm. This time there was no blaming the cat. The only question was--foreshock or aftershock.

Since they both measured the same on the Richter scale, I still have no idea. Ah well. If you don't hear from me again, we can assume that it was a foreshock.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Modern Folktales?

Last week I read an article that io9 published about remakes and folklore. It kind of blew my mind. I highly recommend it, if you've got a moment. I'll wait.

(If you don't have a moment, Annalee Newitz posits that movie remakes are our latest version of folktales, and that they are a good thing.)

As this is Thursday, there is a question involved. It's not a "what if", though. It's more something to contemplate.

Are we too focused on originality? There is comfort in having an idea of where a story is going. Why else would the same formulas work on TV shows time and time again?

What are our modern "folk tales"?

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Barefoot Sandals for Sale

A couple weeks ago, I wrote about designing a pair of barefoot sandals. I wondered if I should post them to my online shop. Well, I went and did it...

In orange, my signature color.

Seems like the standard color for these is white. There's a good reason for this.

It's such a pretty blue.

These are the same green from last time, but this time the picture is better.
These are so much fun to knit and to wear. I just had to share.  

Coming soon: in lavender and denim blue (as soon as I get a chance to take pictures).  

By the way, my shop has a Facebook page. If you're on Facebook, I'd appreciate a "like". I post new pictures there as soon as I finish them, many times before I get a chance to post the items on Etsy.  

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Poison Ivy Fight

Sometimes I catch half a conversation, and it stops me cold. This one did. It was originally posted on February 12, 2010, and I still recall this exchange vividly.

"We once had a poison ivy fight. It was sooooo painful afterwards."

6th period hadn't started yet. (11th grade U.S. history.) The students were finding their seats. I happened to look over at the TA, and he started laughing. There was no help for it, I couldn't hold the laughter in.

The TA asked the question. The boy explained:

"We were weeding. We were wearing gloves. Then somebody happened to touch someone else's neck, and his neck got all red, and then..."

Apparently, the boys then threw poison ivy at each other. For a while. It was fun while they were throwing plants, but they paid for it later.  

The boy who prompted this story left the room to get some water (he started it all when he related a story of an ice fight). The TA was still laughing. And then the period started.

Sometimes... I do not understand the reasoning of 16-year-old boys. At least the TA got a kick out of it. He said that the story made his day.

Monday, August 6, 2012

My Week Preview

Apologies that the blog has been a little stale as of late. It's summer. That's kind of how this rolls.

Anyway, this week I'm over at Unicorn Bell. I'm writing about the major issue I'm having with my current novel/novella (spoiler: it lacks a climax). Why I do this writing thing...

Also, I post once a month to a blog for a team I'm on over at Etsy. It's the California Crafters Club of Etsy (or CCCOE), and the blog is here. Lots of soaps and I even found some lip balm. It's a sweet smelling post.

I will be here as well, doing the usual. Feel free to stop by and comment here or on any of my other posts. I'd love to hear from you.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Reply Hazy, Try Again

Oh, goody, another meme. The 2nd this week. Thanks, Marcy.

The rules: 
  1. Post the button with a link to the originator.
  2. Share an excerpt from your current WIP, perhaps something you're struggling with, are stuck on, or just can't "get right."
  3. Ask a question about your excerpt. It can be something easy such as "What do you think?" or something more in-depth, such as "Can you suggest a better way to word such-and-such," or "How can I make the emotions in this scene more realistic?"
  4. Tag 8 people.
I'm struggling with my whole WIP, but that's normal. However, I just wrote a scene that I did have a question about. First, here's the scene:

“Polly? Is that you?”

If I had been alone I would have ducked behind another group of people, but Lord Raynor wouldn’t let me go. The man approaching us was dark haired and of medium build. The face seemed familiar, but I had no idea what his name was.

“Lord Simon, good evening,” Lord Raynor said.

“Lord Raynor. And Polly?” the man asked.

“I’m sorry, I don’t think we’ve met,” I said. “My name is Vertiline.”

“Vertiline? Really? You look just like this girl I met out in… Well, I guess you wouldn’t be her, would you?”

“It sounds like you have a twin somewhere,” Lord Raynor said. “Who is this look-alike?”

This was not a conversation I wanted to have. I needed a dodge, and fast.

“This wasn’t in Zebulon’s Spring, was it?” I asked.

“Um, yeah,” Lord Simon said. “You know…”

“I’ve heard of her,” I said. “Whatever you do, don’t mention it to my father. Please. He doesn’t know I know.”

I looked towards my father in what I hoped conveyed shame.

The topic was instantly dropped.

And the question: I'm trying for subtlety, but I don't want what I'm implying to be missed. Did I give enough clues, or should I add a little more to make it clear?

Tagging: Yeah, I don't do that. I'm where chain emails go to die (usually because by the time I get them, they've made the rounds), and I assume that you've already been tagged. However, if you have not, and you are reading this, consider yourself tagged. (You're welcome.)

Thursday, August 2, 2012


What if all your dreams came true? What would that feel like?

(Apologies for getting all Secret on you today. I've been working on the law of attraction, and this has been on my mind.)

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Liebster Award Part 2

I've managed to avoid the blog awards as of late...until now. I've been awarded the Liebster Award (again).  

Carrie at Chasing Revery was nice enough to think of me. Thanks, I think.  

The rules have changed since the last time. Now I'm supposed to share 11 facts about myself and answer 11 questions. (And award 11 other blogs and ask them 11 of my own questions.)  

First up--random facts:
  1. My birthday was yesterday. (Although lately I've taken to scheduling posts ahead, so I'm writing this before my birthday. But when you read this it'll be after.)  
  2. It used to be a not very notable day. Then this Rowling person wrote this book about a boy wizard, and...
  3. I am a fan of Harry Potter. What's not to love? Wizards. Magic. It's a great fantasy series.
  4. I ended up staying up all night reading the 7th book. Which was a birthday present which I got a week or so early. 
  5. And it was an excuse to go to the movies. I don't do much of that anymore. It has to be a movie that I want to see, and even then I might just wait for TV.  
  6. I like to knit while I watch TV. I've heard it referred to as physical white noise. I've gotten to the point where I need to be doing something with my hands while I'm watching TV or I go a little nutty.
  7. This is why I'm not keen to go to the movies. It's hard to knit in the dark. And unless I'm riveted to the screen, my hands get itchy. There's only so many snacks one can eat.
  8. Yes, I know I have a problem. But my problem (sometimes) produces useful stuff. Or at least Christmas presents.
  9. As of right now, I have two of my Christmas presents completed for this year. 
  10. Christmas always falls on the same day of the week as my birthday. So, this year Christmas will fall on a Tuesday.
  11. I'm terrible at these facts things. They seem to go better when I have a theme of some sort.  
Then, here are Carrie's questions: 

1) What is your favorite movie from the 1950's or before?
I can't pick a favorite movie. Can't. Do. It. I could pick my favorite Fred Astaire/Ginger Rogers (it changes from year to year, but at the moment it would be Swing Time), my favorite screwball comedy (My Man Godfrey), or my favorite postwar coming home type movie (Apartment for Peggy). But that doesn't even begin to scratch the surface.

2) Which band do you most wish would come back after 'disappearing' or retiring?
My music listening happens only when I'm in my car, and I only listen to the FM radio. Bands disappear? Yeah, haven't noticed.

3) What is your favorite book that you don't think many people would know?
I don't think anyone would not know any of my favorites. Anne McCaffrey. Terry Pratchett. The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. While I don't mind reading obscure books, I don't remember any as having been favorites.

4) What song is stuck in your head right now? (Because you know I just put one there - sorry.)
Actually, you didn't. See question #2.

5) How many animals do you have? How many do you wish you had?
At the moment: 1 cat. I say "at the moment", because said cat is going home to her first family in a week or so. This is a long story having to do with mothers (not mine), heart attacks, and moving. Don't ask.

6) What is your favorite type of cookie?
Chocolate chocolate chip.

7) What place do you never want to go back to because it's so perfect in your mind you don't want to ruin it?
I don't have one of those. Every place that I liked I would love to see again.

8) How many paces from your computer place to the fridge?
I have to walk out of my room, down the hall, down the stairs, through the living room, past the dining area, and into the kitchen. Yeah, I'm not going to count.

9) Did you actually have to count, or did you already know?
See #8,

10) How old were you when you no longer believed in Santa Claus?
Don't know, but I was in elementary school.

11)Did someone spill the beans or did you figure it out on your own?
I figured it out. Sorry, no interesting story to go with it.

Since I tend to get these things last (I'm the place where chain emails go to die), I'm going to skip the awarding part. If you haven't been tagged, consider yourself "it".