Friday, September 28, 2012

Intellectual Curiosity?

Last Friday I was in a science classroom. Science classrooms many times have working faucets at the workstations. The students are supposed to leave them alone unless they are doing a lab, and most of the time they do.

I noticed one group of four running the water. Of course, I went over to investigate.

They explained that they were doing physics. They wanted to see how many drops of water they could get to balance on the end of a pen.

This kind of pen, although theirs was blue.

Because of the surface tension of water, they could balance a couple drops. If you look at the end of the pen closely, you'll see that there's enough of an indentation to keep a little water there, which is what held a drop on top.  

They were able to get three drops or the third drop obliterated their efforts--I wasn't clear on which.  

I stood there and watched them for a bit. It was kind of interesting. 

There are all sorts of things students will do when given the chance. (The assignment was a finish-up-the-packet-that's-due thing, and several students pulled out work from other classes.) Many of my nightmare posts result from this.  

But of all the things they can get up to, this is the sort of thing that bothers me the least. 

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Hidden History

I record a lot of shows off The Science Channel. It's backup for when there's nothing on TV. Lately, I watched What the Ancients Knew.

There was a lot of stuff that happened before history. That is, history is what was recorded, so before they could record, we have pre-history. Writing was a huge invention.

But that got me thinking...

What if the ancients did have some way of writing/recording stuff, but at some point they destroyed it all? What if they decided to hide something from us future humans and the only way to do that was to get rid of all trace of their accomplishments?

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Unfinished Purse and More

I intended today's post to be a brag post where I show off my newly completed green patchwork purse. Unfortunately, the purse is not yet finished. Between another lining issue and a head cold/allergies/sinus/misery, I haven't gotten much of anything done. Ah well.

Outside done. Inside work-in-progress.
As long as I have you here, I was wondering if any of you would be willing to do me a favor. That is, would any of you who have blogs mind doing a little advertising for me? It'd be the thing on my sidebar that showcases my shop. It looks like this:  

It would be great if you would put one on your blog's sidebar for a bit. In return, I'll gift you with something made by me, either from my shop or a custom knit. If interested, email me at mllelizka [at] gmail [dot] com.

And finally, just a reminder that Blog Action Day is coming up. October 15th. Are you in?

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Got Your Back

Government. Seniors. They filed in, took their seats, and waited for the bell to ring.

A girl seated in the middle of the room looked over her shoulder at the three boys seated behind her.

"I don't like this."

I didn't set the seating chart. It's the third week of school, so these sorts of things should have already been worked out. But we had a moment, so I asked.

"Do you normally sit in the back of the room?"

Student: "No. But I don't trust them."

Um, okay. I didn't see a problem. It's not like they were going to attempt anything. Besides, I was at the front of the room, and I could see exactly what those boys were up to. If they tried anything, I would catch them.

So, I told the girl I'd keep an eye out. She'd be safe.

"Thanks. I've got your back, too."

That's nice to know.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Where is Michigan?

7th grade English. The entire lesson plan consisted of going over the 20 words on their new spelling list. I was supposed to discuss the words' meanings with them.

For the most part, I asked them to come up with definitions. I figured that 7th graders should know what a penguin is. Language should also be a familiar word. And everyone volunteered to be the one to define guacamole.

(Other words weren't so familiar to them, like chauffeur, whirlpool, and exotic.)

Then we got to Michigan. I assumed they'd know it is a state, so instead I asked them to tell me where it is.

"In the USA."

Um, okay. Could you be a little more specific?

On the one hand, I'm glad that they didn't think it was in Africa. But it would have been nice if they had a better handle on where it is located. I resigned myself to being the one to give a better description for them (alas, no maps in the room).

Then 5th period walked in. I asked the same question, but this time I got a different answer.

"It's next to Ohio."

Nice. The rest of the class pointed out that the boy who provided that answer was born in Ohio. As if that somehow made the answer less right.

Unfortunately, 6th period gave the same answer as the rest of the day. Although, now they all have a much better idea of where Michigan is.

Thursday, September 20, 2012


My "what if?" posts started as a way to fill Thursday. They replaced other writing topics as I exhausted my writing topics pretty quickly.  

To refresh, these are random thoughts I have. They don't have to be based in reality. In fact, they work better if they're not. These are questions which are meant to lead to more questions which hopefully will turn into a story of some sort in the future.  

This past weekend, I saw The Vow. (Please don't judge me too harshly. There was nothing on TV, and it was awfully hot outside. Over 100 degrees. It broke records. And there was not much to do in the air conditioned house but watch TV.) And it made me think of how memory determines much of who we are.  

I know this topic has been done in movies and books before. So, I'm going to try a different spin. 

What if we could erase memories that we did not want? What if losing those memories didn't change us at all?

As school has started up again and I have been working, I will have new subbing stories to share. Would you like me to continue with the "what if?" posts on Thursdays (assuming I can come up with something)? I've been debating whether or not to keep them up and post about subbing on other days. What do you think?  

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Lining Fail

I thought I was being so clever.

Last week I showed my new green patchwork purse in progress. Now I'm in the home stretch. I should be able to finish this and list it (this one is going to be for sale) soon.

Before felting

After felting

Since I'm going to sell this one, I figured that it would need a lining.

This is what the inside looks like without a lining.

Because this purse wasn't made from a simple rectangle, sewing the lining was going to be a bit tricky. So, I traced the purse onto fabric before I sewed the seams of the knitted purse. And then I did the felting.

Felting shrinks the knitted object. I knew this. So, I didn't worry about adding seam allowances. After cutting out the lining, I trimmed it a bit more to even things out. Then I pulled out my sewing machine. The lining was considerably smaller than my unfelted purse. 

I felted the purse. I was pleased with how well the purse turned out. And then I went to fit the lining to the purse, and...  

Um, yeah. That's not going to work.  

I thought I was being clever. I thought I would just be able to insert the lining and sew it down. 

Ah well. It's time to get the sewing machine out again.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Rock, Paper, Scissors Test

Sometimes I do things that perhaps I should not do. This originally posted on September 19, 2008.

Today I covered special ed. Fourth period was the "monitoring" class, which meant that any students who needed to take a test in a resource room did it with me watching. I figured that since it's Friday, there would be a lot of students taking tests. Nope. Just one.

"Which amendment has to do with being able to try a civil case in front of a jury?"

Yeah, nice try. I told the student that he'd have to figure it out on his own. It was a test, after all. So, then he asked me what grade he would get if he got 7 wrong out of 25 total. He figured that was an acceptable grade, so then he went about guessing on those seven that he did not know.

How do you guess when you have four choices? First he asked for a coin. When I told him that I did not have one, he came up with another way to guess: rock-paper-scissors.

I'm not sure how he reasoned it. Something about I was a/b and he was c/d. So, we played. I threw scissors; he threw paper. So, then I was a and he was b and we played again. Sorry, I forget who "won". He did this for three different questions.

Should I have helped him guess? I've been thinking about this. He would have made random guesses with or without my help, and it's not like I was steering him in any particular direction (I didn't even look at the test). I was kind of like a Magic 8 Ball here or a random number generator.

It didn't matter for long. He figured out a way to eliminate answers (which is much better than random guessing). He got some scratch paper, and he managed to finish the rest of the test on his own.

I wonder what grade he'll get.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Why Is North Up?

It's the beginning of the school year, so the geography classes had the standard "get to know your atlas" assignment. It's a pretty straightforward packet and the instructions are clear. Easy day, right?

I should mention that freshmen take geography.

After the first group couldn't figure out that "find the direction from Topeka, Kansas" meant that the answers were north, south, etc., and the starting point was Topeka, Kansas, I made sure to include this in my instructions to the following classes.

On the one hand, they are only in 9th grade, and perhaps they had not studied maps before. But they're in 9th grade. They haven't even looked at maps before?

I wondered, as some of the questions I got were troubling.

Two students had a debate about Egypt and whether or not it was in Africa. I ended up explaining that Russia was in Asia (at least on the part of the map the student was looking at). And I needed to explain that North America has three countries in it. Oh, and "what body of water a city is on" means the sea or ocean, not the river that's more than 100 miles away.

I swear, I tried to sound nonjudgmental. I don't know if I pulled it off.

Then I got called over to another student. He asked if I studied geography. Well, no, but ask the question anyway as I might have an answer.

He wanted to know why our maps were oriented with north at the top. (Okay, he didn't phrase it that way, but this is what he was asking.)

And just when I had given up hope on the future of the species, I was reminded that some of them do actually think. Nice.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Virtual Universe

I've been watching Through the Wormhole again...


What if the universe we live in is a computer simulation? What if we are all parts of some computer? Does that mean we can control the simulation? How much can we control the simulation? Or are we just cogs that can do nothing to change what we see around us?

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Green Patchwork Purse

I'm making purses again. Remember the bright orange patchwork purse? Now I'm making one in green.

Purse form, knit flat

Purse seams sewn up. Missing half the strap.

I've still got half the strap to complete. (I'm trying a new strap assembly. This will make the strap length adjustable.) Then I'll felt the thing, and this one is getting a lining.  

Perhaps I should make one that's black and white. What do you think?

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Making Ice Cream

Yesterday I regaled you with my attempt at homemade Oreos. It took me a while to find the link for the chocolate ice cream post, and while I was at it, I discovered that I had linked to a post on MySpace that was no longer there. But I had reposted it here (this is the very reason why I do the reposts). After fixing those links so that they actually go somewhere, I stumbled across this post, and hey, it's Tuesday. 

This was first posted on June 30, 2008.  

I'm making ice cream again. I don't know how much of this story I've already committed to blog, so let me start at the beginning. Well, in a moment. Right now I need to go and stir...

The recipe calls for "stirring frequently", which means that I pretty much have to hover over the mixture. It has to gain temperature slowly so that the eggs don't turn into a nasty mess. But the stirring is boring, so I have to find things to do while the ice cream is heating, or else I'll go a bit mad. Oh, better stir the thing again...

First I saw the recipe on an episode of Good Eats (great show, by the way). Then I found my old ice cream maker, but that turned out to be a disaster. Then I asked for a new ice cream maker for Christmas. I got one, and I've been making ice cream for myself ever since. And it's time to, well, you know...

I've tweaked the recipe a couple times because the recipe as written is much too rich. Then it was time to try a new variation. My mother doesn't do dairy, but loves ice cream, so I thought I'd try a version using almond milk for her. It's denser (for almond milk doesn't have a heavy cream version), but she says it tastes fine. I haven't tried it myself. (Oh, back to the saucepan...)

Today I'm making the almond milk version. It's finally starting to thicken up a bit (not as much as the milk version), and it's time to dip the thermometer in. Almost 165 degrees Fahrenheit. The target is 170, so I'm closer than I thought...(just a quick check)...It's only been 20 minutes, so either this is starting to go faster for me, or 20 minutes used to seem like such a long time when I started.

I guess buying ice cream is much simpler. It takes a lot less time. But I get a certain satisfaction from doing it myself. Pride of ownership, perhaps...

And now I'm to the last three degrees, the degrees that never seem to climb. It's best if no one is here to watch. I tend to get a bit cranky.

Monday, September 10, 2012

No Good Reason

On Friday I scanned the blogs on my Reader as I try to do once a day. I stop and comment on a few, but the vast majority get a cursory glance before I move on. Catherine Ensley's Words World and Wings had a list of links, and the last one said Homemade Oreos.

Homemade Oreos? I followed that link.

As I read through the recipe I noted that I had most of those ingredients. It didn't seem beyond my capabilities. Next thing I knew, I was in the kitchen going through the baking drawer in my pantry, checking to see if I did have everything.

I was a bit low on unsweetened cocoa powder (yes, I keep that on hand in case I want to make chocolate ice cream), so I needed to measure it to see if there was enough. And that started me measuring out all the ingredients into one bowl.

One thing I don't keep on hand: unsalted butter. But I had salted butter. Not the most brilliant of plans, but I was now committed.

Less than an hour later...

I ended up with about two dozen. I used up the rest of the cocoa powder, vanilla, and sugar (stuff I keep on hand, so I need to put those on my grocery list). And while they don't taste exactly like Oreos, they do taste similar. 

I don't normally jump in and bake just because I see a recipe that I can make. I usually plan and plot and look for the right time to try these things. But I was bored.  

See what trouble I get up to when I'm bored? What sorts of things do you do when you're bored?  

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Another Conspiracy Theory

The other day I was watching this show about the dollar bill, and it quickly devolved into a diatribe against the Freemasons. While normally I kind of enjoy conspiracy theory rants, this time I lost my patience after about 15 minutes. I had to turn the thing off it annoyed me so.

I tend to be dubious about most conspiracy theories. Sure, there are powerful people out to take care of their own self interest, but I have a hard time with the concept of a group of powerful people working together for one world-taking-over goal. (Those who have the means are too selfish and too short-sighted, in my opinion.)

But what if I'm wrong?

What if there was a group of people who were working on world domination? What would their goals be? Would they be able to achieve them? Would we not notice?

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Blog Action Day is October 15th

It's that time of year again. Blog Action Day is approaching, and if you haven't already done so, you should go over and register your blog.

Wait. You don't know what I'm talking about? You've never heard of Blog Action Day?

Blog Action Day is a day where bloggers from all over the world post about the same topic on the same day. That day is October 15th, and this year's topic is "The Power of We".

(I'm not sure what it means either, but I'll figure out something. I always do.)

I've been doing this since I first heard about it in 2007.
I'd love it if you joined me. 

And today I'm also over at the California Crafters Club of Etsy Blog. Hope to see you there. 

Tuesday, September 4, 2012


School has now started. And I am looking forward to more exchanges like this. Although, "looking forward to" is probably not the right phrase. This was originally posted on September 18, 2009

They were supposed to be watching the movie Anne Frank. Instead, they were talking, so I was walking around the room. I caught a boy with his cell phone out on his desk.

"Put it away," I said. (I was being nice. I could have just confiscated the thing.)

He mumbled some excuse and put it in his pocket. He attempted to pull it out again when he thought I wasn't looking. I informed him that if I saw it again, I was going to confiscate it.

"You can't do that!" he informed me. "You're just a sub. You can't take my cell phone."

I can't, can I? I don't have the authority? The office won't accept confiscated cell phones from a lowly sub? Silly boy. I have done this before, and the office is more than happy to take the devices off my hands. And you will give it to me, or I will get security, the principal, or both involved, and then it will get really ugly.

I said none of this. I just thought it. I thought it as I looked at the boy. I must have had a "he didn't just say that, did he?" look on my face, for the boy quickly recanted.

"I was just kidding. You won't see it again. Could I just reply to this text first?"

I didn't see that cell phone again. (I told him to reply to the text after class.)

Monday, September 3, 2012

Halloween Is Coming

I'm ignoring the fact that today is Labor Day. But as now it's September, I can start thinking about Halloween.

Too early? You haven't been in any craft stores then. The craft stores have their Christmas stuff up. (I started my Christmas knitting in January.)

I don't usually decorate. But since I got on Pinterest, I've seen all sorts of interesting ideas that I might just have to try...

Puff painted pumpkins.

Spiderman jack-o-lantern.

Milk carton ghosts.

Spooky eyes in the bushes.

And I could even crochet a witch's hat and/or a mask.

Got any Halloween plans yet?