Friday, January 30, 2015

Don't Go BOOM

I saw this Mental Floss quiz in my Facebook feed. And I had to try it. I got 4 states in...and BOOM! Lost.

Let me explain. You start out at South Carolina, and then you need to name a state that borders it. Don't worry, you're given a hint. The first letter of the next state.

But there's a catch. If you guess wrong, it's game over.

I can't let such things lie, so I went back and tried again. A few times. Eventually, I got through the whole thing. (OK, I cheated a little. I did consult a United States map. But only for a few of them.)

You have 5 minutes. You hit the play button, and then you're typing in the box at the top of the screen. You don't need to worry about capitalizing, but your spelling should be fairly close. Once you've completed typing in the state's name, you don't have to hit enter or anything--the quiz will either accept it or go BOOM on you.

Good luck...

Name the Next Bordering State

Did you make it all the way through?

Thursday, January 29, 2015

The Game

I was not looking forward to this assignment. I had managed to avoid it the previous day, but this day I was not so lucky.

8th grade math. And the class was... not good. Not good at all.

So, when 1st period (which was going to be with me for 2nd period as well) finished the assignment, I knew I needed to do something with them so they didn't go crazy. I just happened to know of a little game that might work.

I learned that the best way to conduct the game is to let the class get into teams. Each team gets one spokesperson for their turns. And I let each team name themselves. The names...

The final tally...
Seriously, the names! Turns out that SMA means something not appropriate for school, which I now know but didn't at the time (look it up on Urban Dictionary if you're curious, but it's NSFW), but the rest of the names are just... 

In case you can't read my writing, they are: Rainbow Unicorns of Awesomeness, Sidemen, LlamaCorns, and Sneakerheads. The girls in Sneakerheads were oh so close several times to getting a point, but they missed it by thatmuch. Until they finally gave up.

In the end the game lasted too long, but at least it gave us something to do. You should never give 8th graders free time. Just a little tip from me to you.  

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Hope for the Future

Middle school. Special ed. English class.

They have this thing they do daily. They are given two sentences that have errors in them, and they are to find the errors and correct them. This day's sentence:
their were many people comeing to visit.
"Get rid of the E."

"Capitalize the T."

"That's the wrong 'there'."

And I breathed a huge sigh of relief. I didn't even have to prompt them and they found it. Easily.

See, Internet people. Middle schoolers in special ed can identify which there/their/they're is correct. Why can't the rest of you?

(I don't mean the readers of this blog. You all get it correct. I'm talking about those other commenters out there or those on Facebook who continually get it wrong.)

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Created by Aliens?

At the heart of much speculative fiction (and fiction in general) is a question. What if? On Tuesdays I like to throw one out there and see what you make of it. Do with it as you please. If a for-instance is not specified, feel free to interpret that instance as you wish. And if you find this becomes a novel-length answer, I'd appreciate a thank you in the acknowledgements ;)

This week our question comes to us via one of my oldest blogging buddies (and fellow moderator over at Unicorn Bell), Charity Bradford...

How would you react if you learned the earth and humans were created by aliens--aliens that live all around us, look just like us? More importantly, would you marry one of them if he or she said the future of your world depended on it?

Thank you, Charity. And make sure to check out Charity's newest book, which has just gone live...

Fade Into Me

Caeden Frey doesn't believe humans will evolve to see the magic, much less control it. Even so, he has two months to marry a human or face the wrath of the High Council. Bitter about a responsibility he thinks prevents him marrying for love, he figures any human girl will do. He’s ready to propose when his soul mate stumbles into—and right out of—his arms.

Human, Ryanne Killian might be Caedan's one shot at happiness while still fulfilling his duty. Unfortunately, she guards a dark secret. She’s determined to push Caedan away to protect him from her past.

Caedan must convince her she’s worthy of his love before a rival family puts an end to his wedding plans. If she can see her own worth, she just might save herself and his people.

Buy it in Print
Buy it for Kindle


Monday, January 26, 2015

Some Housekeeping

Hiya. That's me, keeping my head down. Sort of.

This week I'm trying an experiment over at Unicorn Bell. You know Unicorn Bell. It's that writers' blog that I'm a part of. Occasionally. Please stop by and let me know what you think.

I've also heard that today is the day that the April A to Z Challenge sign ups begin. I'd link to it and all, but I write these posts ahead of time, so there are no links to link to. Yet. But the plan is to sign up early this year as I plan on participating (although that might change if things get too hectic on my end).

I'm not sure when the day to reveal your theme is, but since it'll be business as usual here, I don't see any reason to hold that back. There'll still be what if Tuesdays (X falls on a Tuesday this year, so look forward to that what if), some #ThrowbackThursdays, the occasional random quiz Friday, but mostly, it'll be all about the #subfiles.

We're supposed to give advice to those joining the challenge for the first time, so I'll reveal my secret.

My #subfiles posts are left to chance, but the days seem to cooperate with the letter of the day. *knocks wood* I've been incredibly lucky that way. But I don't write them daily. I write them a week in advance, spending the week plotting and planning. And figuring out how to shoehorn the day to fit the letter.

I also have a backup plan. If things go horribly awry, I have another post waiting. Just in case.

So, please stop by Unicorn Bell today. And the rest of this week. I'll be ever so grateful. And make sure to sign up for the A to Z Challenge if you are so inclined. See you there.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Sounds Like

7th grade world history. They were working on a project about China.

A student asked if he could look something up on his phone. He needed to find an image of something so he could draw it for his project. (They were creating "scrolls" of Chinese inventions.) So, once I said yes to one, I had to say yes to the rest of them.

Surprisingly, they all used their phones for their assignment. (Well, mostly. There was the incident of the boy who took an unauthorized picture of a girl...) They were looking up maps. They were looking up images...

One boy gave Siri a query: "Images of ships."

Siri gave him images of chips.

The boy was not happy. Others in the class chimed in on how hit and miss Siri can be. I figured the room had a bit too much noise for Siri to make out what the boy was asking. So, I suggested that the boy emphasize the "sh" sound...

The boy didn't get images of ships. But what he got images of did start with sh...

(I really should have seen this one coming.)

"Who takes pictures of their poop?"

Who indeed?

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

And Then a Miracle Occurred

It was a bad, bad day. Algebra readiness. These classes were filled with freshmen who were not ready for algebra. And many were not fans of math anyway.

2nd period came in like a herd of wild elephants. They were loud. Wouldn't let me get a word in edgewise (and I was supposed to go over notes with them). And they thought it was fun to play around. Throwing paper at each other. Screeching.

I keep a tally of the number of times I have to stop and get their focus back. (I leave that number for the teacher.) It was north of 20.

So, typical freshmen. And I knew my day was going to be very, very long.

3rd period was pretty much the same.

I wasn't expecting much from 4th period. I started off the period by explaining that I had a bunch of stuff to go over with them (the notes were on scientific notation), and if they would help me out by paying attention while I did that, they could talk afterwards.

I got into the meat of the lesson...and the class settled. One student even commented on how quiet the class was.

I held my breath. I crossed my fingers. And somehow they remained settled for the entirety of the lesson.

A miracle.

Too bad 5th and 6th periods went crazy. At least I had a period of not-so-bad.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Impossible Wish

At the heart of much speculative fiction (and fiction in general) is a question. What if? On Tuesdays I like to throw one out there and see what you make of it. Do with it as you please. If a for-instance is not specified, feel free to interpret that instance as you wish. And if you find this becomes a novel-length answer, I'd appreciate a thank you in the acknowledgements ;)

If you watch Elementary you know what inspired this question...

What if you could be granted one impossible wish (such as a visit with a deceased relative or a glimpse of the future), but the only way to achieve this would result in permanent debilitating brain damage? Would it be worth it? What if you were dying anyway?

Monday, January 19, 2015

That I Do Remember

"Do you remember me?"

It's a common question. The answer is usually no.

An average class contains 33 students. Sometimes 35. Not usually much less than 30. I'll see five periods a day.

While I may get some students over and over, there are some students I see once and then not again. And unless there's some memorable incident...

"You confiscated my cell phone."

Again, not a detail that makes the student stand out.

"I was taking a picture... of her..."

The girl was two seats over.

"And I took out my battery..."

Aha! Yep, that I do recall. It was memorable enough that I wrote about it.

I mentioned that he was being way too paranoid. He said that the principal actually did go through his phone. Looking for drug references. And the boy's sister yelled at the administration for the violation of the student's privacy. So, apparently it became a big huge thing.

Ah well...

I was at the continuation high school. It was the orientation class--the first class the students take when they're first sent out of the other schools.

So, I'm kind of not surprised to see that he ended up there.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Common Bonds

This quiz I found on Mental Floss. You have 5 minutes to find the movies that share the trait listed at the top of the screen. And if you guess wrong, you've got a mark against you.

You can skip ahead if you need to, and you can go back if you still have time.

I believe I got 34/39. (I didn't think I'd be doing another random quiz today, so I didn't note my score when I took it.)

How'd you do?

Thursday, January 15, 2015

The Alleged Wasp

It was a middle school graphic arts class. I'm not sure exactly what they do, although the classroom was filled with computers and various shop-type equipment.

This particular teacher doesn't allow them on the computers when she's not there (I'm not sure what happened, but there has to be a good reason for it), so I knew going in they'd have book work.

And they weren't going to be happy about it.

4th period. I got the work passed out and explained. I think. I'm not sure when the boys spotted the wasp. Because it all went downhill after that.

They ran away. One complained that he was allergic. Another told me that I had to kill it. He indicated a broom. Then there was general shrieking and loud complaining.

So, was this wasp attacking them? No. As far as I could tell, there was no wasp. The boys pointed at the overhead lights. It was there.

These lights were at least 10 feet up. Way above their heads. So, nowhere near them.

Eventually I got them seated, but they would not settle. One shrieked that he saw the wasp, and another boy ran for it again.

"It's there. It's right there."

"It's coming out again."

I turned the first couple times. After that I stopped. I was right where the wasp was supposedly, yet I never saw the thing. I never heard the thing.

There was no wasp. I'm certain of it.

The rest of the class attempted to work in the midst of this chaos. There were six tables in the classroom. The wasp sighters were at only two. And then even one of those tables lost interest...

These boys started fighting over pencils. "No, that pencil is mine."

"What did you do with my pencil?"

"That was my lead."

I mean really. (Just imagine me shaking my head.)

The other reason I know the wasp didn't exist--no other period made mention of the beast.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Nook Denied

It was Tuesday night. I was ready for bed. And like I do every night before I go to sleep, I took out my Nook to do a little reading. (Well, first I play a couple rounds of Candy Crush...)

I woke it up. I touched the little icon. And nothing happened.


The thing was completely frozen. I tried hitting buttons, and I got nothing. In desperation, I hit both the power button and the home button at the same time.

Finally, movement. It rebooted. There was a little animation that showed that it was loading, and it counted up from 1% to 99%... And froze.

What do you do? The only trick I know is the reboot. That usually works. But it was sheer luck that I found that.

I had to go to bed without having anything to read. The next day I contacted customer service, and they taught me a new trick. How to get the thing to the factory reset.

Which meant I lost all my bookmarks. All my organization. But I had to do something. At this point my ereader was a doorstop (and not a very effective one).

Turns out that when the little Nook screen first pops up after hitting the power and home buttons at the same time, if you hit the home button then, the whole thing wipes and starts over.

And my Nook then again worked. After reloading all the software updates. And I had to restore all my settings by hand.

I've become a little dependent on my Nook.

(And I discovered a funny little trick. I actually loaded the Kindle app onto my Nook, so I can have the best of both worlds.)

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Death of an Infant

At the heart of much speculative fiction (and fiction in general) is a question. What if? On Tuesdays I like to throw one out there and see what you make of it. Do with it as you please. If a for-instance is not specified, feel free to interpret that instance as you wish. And if you find this becomes a novel-length answer, I'd appreciate a thank you in the acknowledgements ;)

There was this awful story in the local news last week about a 3-week-old infant who was kidnapped and then found dead. (Full story here. Don't click on the link. The headline is awful enough. The details are best skipped so you don't have the full knowledge of the awful terrible.)

The only reason I bring this up is for the what if factor. The whole if-I-could-go-back-in-time-and-fix something thing. Which always backfires. (Warning: that link leads to, and it's very easy to start clicking links and find 5 hours of your life gone.) Because, that's the only reason an infant should end up dead. Or is it?

What if you knew that this small child was going to grow up to be complete evil? How could you prevent that child from fulfilling such a destiny without resorting to murder? Because, murder never works. It always backfires.

Friday, January 9, 2015

Famous Novels

I guess Random Quiz Friday survives another week...

My sister-in-law found this one and posted it on Facebook. It's from Quizfreaks, and it's a test for all us bookish people. Can You Name the 12 Most Famous Novels in History?  

Need a new pic for these besides the "what if" pic. I'm working on it.
I got all 12. How'd you do?

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Playboy Bond

School is back in session, but as I schedule these before the week, I have not as of this point worked any new days. Which means it's another #ThrowbackThursday. This originally appeared on December 3, 2008.

A boy in fourth period came up with that today. One boy introduced himself as, "Bond, James Bond". Another boy asked to pass by me by saying, "Please let the playboy pass". Then the "playboy" combined both. I would have said something about that being a good porno name, but that would have been way too friendly to a class that was behaving not at all how they should have behaved.

Today I covered a special ed class with a teacher who is the polar opposite of a leslacker (his lesson plans were so detailed, they were a thing of beauty). The day had gone pretty well. But fourth period would not work. I asked them to work. I told them to get to work. Four of them were working on a quiz. Only one (the one who had been absent yesterday) made any progress on it.

Then the boy who was seated at the back of the room ("James Bond") came up front to rifle through the teacher's overhead marker collection. I got him to put the markers back, but shortly thereafter I noticed that my pen was missing.

It's a cheap pen. I've learned not to use fancy pens at school. But it's a point of honor with me--I never lose pens. And this one is just about out of ink. I kind of want to get to the end of the ink with this thing. But it was gone.

I looked about for it. Many times it'll fall to the ground. But I knew that "James Bond" had swiped it when he was rifling through things earlier. I couldn't accuse him, though. Then I never would have gotten it back.

To the class I said that my pen had gone "missing" and I hoped that someone would "find" it. As usually happens, it found its way to the floor. An innocent student found it. She, of course, was then accused of the crime, but I knew that she couldn't have possibly done it even if she would have been so inclined. So, I got my pen back, and the students spent the rest of the period accusing everybody of swiping it.

If only they would put that kind of effort into their work.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Too Many Greens

So, my little EOS Lip Balm Holders...

...have been selling well. Very well. Surprisingly well.

One sold on Christmas Day. One sold on New Year's Day. And I keep making more to replace the colors sold.

When I first listed these, I only had one made of each color. I soon learned this was probably not the best idea. I marked "out of stock" as I sold colors and only put them back in stock once I replaced them.

The other day, I finally got around to replacing the "grass green" one. At least, I thought it was "grass green". (I think the yarn color is actually called "limelight".) I made it, changed the availability on the site, and a few days later it sold.

But something was nagging me. The color didn't look quite right.

Turns out I had two similar greens, and I had used the wrong one...

The one on the left (the one that was made) was actually a "sage". Ooops.

I quickly made it in the correct color and shipped it out. Although, now I have one in a color not listed. (And now I'm out of that yarn.)

They're close, but the difference is visible. At least to me. 

So, the question is, do I get more of the "sage" yarn and add it to my stock? Or am I right? I already have too many greens.  

And, what other colors should I add? I went to the yarn store to look for other colors, and I was flummoxed as to what to add. I have just about every shade. (I was planning on making an orange, but they were out of orange. Sigh.)  

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Anticipating Our Needs

At the heart of much speculative fiction (and fiction in general) is a question. What if? On Tuesdays I like to throw one out there and see what you make of it. Do with it as you please. If a for-instance is not specified, feel free to interpret that instance as you wish. And if you find this becomes a novel-length answer, all I ask is a thank you in the acknowledgements.

I got a new cell phone for Christmas. When I text, it gives me three choices of possible words as I start typing. The first choices were "Yes", "No", and "Talk later?" Now, they've become "I", "The", and "I'm". And I went to type "yes" and "yeah" appeared. It's learning my idiosyncrasies. I think.

I don't know if this is a good thing or not.

What if future computers (cell phones, devices) learned us well enough to anticipate our needs? Like, what if the fridge knew when to order groceries (and what to order)? What would that be like? How might that make things go wrong?

Monday, January 5, 2015

After Christmas Projects

Christmas ended, and that's when I had to ramp up the crochet. You see, not only did I put off starting my Christmas knitting, I also put off a birthday present.

HapkidoKid's birthday is December 26th.

Bad timing on his part, really.

He got it on New Year's Eve...

I was worried it wouldn't fit. I was wrong. (The pattern I used is here. I ended up making it a bit smaller than was written.)

Then for Christmas I received a skein of Malabrigo Merino Worsted Yarn. And because the skein was in orange, that meant I had to make something for myself...

Just in time for our cold snap. (Which might be over by the time this post goes live.) This pattern is called Calorimetry, and it was pretty easy to knit.

And now...

Now I've got time and I'm not sure what I'm going to make. I'm sure I'll come up with something.

Friday, January 2, 2015

Famous Roles

The schools are on vacation, and so I have no subbing stories for you. Which means I delve back into "the schedule"...

The only problem with this is Fridays kind of suck. I've never gotten a good Friday topic. They don't seem to stick. But then I had this brilliant idea.

Random Quiz Fridays.

(I thought about doing Friday Funnies, but that idea came from another blog, and then there's the alliteration. Can't do alliteration if I have a choice in the matter.)

I mean, why not?

So, to inaugurate the new feature (I suppose I should put feature in quotes as that's how seriously I'm taking this. In all probability, this will be the only one), we're doing "Who DIDN'T Play These Famous Film & TV Roles" from Playbuzz.

(I tried to embed the thing or at least get an image, but after a half hour of fail, I can't try anymore. Click on the title and it should take you there. Considering the luck I've been having with this, I can't be sure.)

I got 11 out of 15. Not too shabby. How did you do?

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Early Morning Fright

Yep, it's time to pull out the ol' repost. Well, it is #ThrowbackThursday and the first day of the year, so might as well find something from New Year's Day...2008...

Oh my! I saw the skunk!

Streifenskunk (Mephitis mephitis)
Not the actual skunk. I did not stick around long enough to take a pic.
There is a skunk in the neighborhood. The distinctive odor of eau de skunk permeates the air every so often. But honestly, when I don't smell the skunk, I don't think of the skunk.

So, this morning after returning home from my New Year's Eve out, I went out to retrieve the mail as usual. I noticed the scampering creature but didn't really see it at first. By the time it registered to me that it was a skunk, I was viewing its back end as it was scurrying away from me.

It was black with the very distinctive white markings. Its tail was in the air--a black tail framed in white. I saw all of this as the skunk jumped off the sidewalk and into the gutter. Then it disappeared under the sidewalk into a storm drain.

Very carefully I continued on my way to the mailbox, traversing the sidewalk right above where the skunk had disappeared moments earlier. Then I practically ran to the mailbox and returned to my home just as quickly. My heart was racing, but luckily the neighborhood stink bomb did not return.

I'm sure glad Pepe Le Peu picked flight over fight. I don't even want to think about how I would have gotten rid of skunk stench in the wee hours of New Year's Day.