Friday, February 27, 2015

All 44?

In honor of Presidents' Day (Monday the 16th), they had all sorts of stuff on the internet. Including a couple quizzes.

The first one asks you to name all of them. Which was a nice challenge to me. Turns out you don't have to go in order, and if you type one of the names that more than one president had, it fills in both at the same time. I did pretty well, missing only 3 (the 3 I usually miss, so I wasn't too surprised).

The second one is a straight up identify. They give a list of presidents and some recognizable historical figures, and you have to click on the presidents only. And that one I went 43/43. (Yes, there have been 44 presidents, but one had two non-consecutive terms.) Because I'm better at recognizing than coming up with names on my own.

And for everyone outside of the U.S., and those that just don't want to test their knowledge, is one of those "can we guess who you are by the pictures you choose?" ones. Which seems to not be very accurate, at least from the comments I saw. It thinks I'm a teen girl. 17ish. Well, at least it got the female part right. There was another that pegged me as a teen boy.


  1. Name All the Presidents
  2. Pick the U.S. Presidents Without Missing One
  3. Can We Guess Who You Are by the Pictures You Pick?

Thursday, February 26, 2015

All Alone

ELD. English Language Development. So, while they spoke English, they weren't fluent. This was the advanced group.

They had two worksheets. One of them asked them to write a story. The prompt asked them to imagine that they had a time machine and that they could go to any time past or future. When would they go? What would they do? Etc.

One boy was incensed by the question. Time travel is not possible, he explained. I agreed, but explained that this was a story, and he could make things up.

But he wasn't having it. It took a bit for me to get what was bothering him, but eventually I got the gist of what he was saying.

He could imagine someone building a machine that could take someone back in time. But, he argued, once you got there, you'd be all alone. Because the people in the past are now dead, so they wouldn't be there when you got there. Because they are now dead.

It's an interesting theory. One I haven't seen in any of the time travel theories before.

I, of course, argued that if you go back in time, you're going to the time when those people would have been alive. But he wasn't having it. He insisted that if you went back in time, you'd find empty cities.

Of course, he was all about how the Illuminati are real and various other conspiracy theories too. Not that one has to do with the other.

Sometimes I'm amazed at how their minds work.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Beanies and Barefoot Sandals

So, when one knits things that are items to be worn, one has to find models when one wants to show off those items. At least, if one wants those items to look like they should look.

Take, for example, a simple beanie...

It doesn't really show you what it looks like, does it? Now, if someone, like, for example, my father wears it...

Then you get a better idea of scale. And how the thing looks on.

A couple years back I knitted some barefoot sandals...

And tried to show them off taking selfies of my feet (this is hard to do)...

But it just didn't work. No, I needed someone to help me out...

Better? How about this?

Well, I guess I'd like them better on someone else's feet.

The beanie is on sale at my shop now. The barefoot sandals are currently inactive. (They'll be back on sale come summer time.) Although, I do have something seasonal currently active...

What do you think of my pictures? Please be honest. I know they still need work.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Predicting Movies

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 is one of those random thoughts I have from time to time. But first, have you heard of Nostradamus? He was famous for a book of prophecies that was published in 1555. There has been much debate about whether he did predict various world events or not. That's not what my question is about.

First, let's suppose that Nostradamus was a prophet and he could see the future...

What if the visions Nostradamus had of the future were exclusively of our movies?

Monday, February 23, 2015

Not a Freak

It was an 8th grade English class, but the day's lesson was not on literature. The class took a multiple intelligence quiz to help pinpoint their learning styles.

In case you're not familiar, there are 8 types, and each has its own strengths and weaknesses. Most of us have more than one dominant type. While most of you have probably heard of some of this before, these students were largely new to the concept. So, after they took the quiz, we discussed various aspects of each type.

We got to intrapersonal. As with all of them, I had one student read the description...

"Oh, these are the freaks."

The girl who said this had been difficult all period. She was roaming the room at the tardy bell, and seemed oblivious to my attempts to get her to participate in the class.

Me: "So, I'm a freak? Gee, thanks."

She at least had the decency to act chagrined. Not that she tried to backtrack the statement or anything.


Not that I know I'm intrapersonal. It's not usually what pops up when I take these things (and I didn't take this one as I was busy taking care of the class), but there are some aspects that I identify with. I identify with many aspects of most of the categories, though. And I'm sure there were some students in the class who were largely intrapersonal, so there was no way I was going to let that statement pass without challenging it.

But now I wonder what intelligence she was dominate in. Hmmm...

Edit: The links should take you to the various intelligences if you're interested in learning more about them. And I just found this self-assessment that takes 5 minutes (and rated me just about how I'd expect).

Friday, February 20, 2015

Trivia Crack

Business math. This is a class filled with juniors and seniors who need an extra year of math but don't want to take a class like algebra 2 or calculus.

The teacher has uploaded all the necessary notes to the school's website. And she's obtained permission for her classes to use their smartphones to access those notes in class.

Cool, right?

In theory. In practice...

"My phone can't access the site."

"I don't have a phone."

"The file's too big for me to download."

Of course, there are examples in the textbooks too. I could help them out. They could double up and get the notes along with a friend who has a phone that will work. Two boys asked for and were granted permission to go to the library to access the Internet there. But what did the majority of the class do?

Trivia Crack.

Apparently, their phones work just fine for the Trivia Crack app.

"It's educational..."

And it's the last day before a four-day weekend. And they have a sub. And they're not that into math anyway.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Tabloid Fodder

Freshman English. They had a vocabulary assignment. Instead of the usual "use these 10 vocab words in sentences", their teacher had given them 10 prompts. Things like: "Describe a time when you would want a meeting to adjourn early." (Adjourn was their vocab word.)

"What's a tabloid?"

A quick perusal of the assignment led me to prompt #9: "Describe a celebrity who is always giving fodder to the tabloids." Fodder was their vocab word.

There seems to be one or two questions that every period has. For this day it was the tabloid question. So, by 6th period the explanation of the term tabloid became part of my opening remarks.

6th period was different than the other periods. First of all, I had their complete attention when I did my usual opening bit. Then, they worked silently. This was not one of those assignments where they were required to work silently. Even their teacher had said they could work together.

I should not have been surprised, but I was. A little more than halfway into the period, I got the tabloid question again.

Um... Didn't I go over that?

The girl sitting next to him did out loud what I only did in my head. "She explained at the beginning of the period." And then explained so that I wouldn't have to.

So, I came away with two thoughts. Even when I explain and think they're listening, not all of them are. And when did kids stop being aware of tabloids? Is it because it's all online? Does anyone know? (If you have a teen in the house, do they know what a tabloid is?)

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Algebra in Braille

Visually impaired classes. 6th period. It was the study hall period of the day where three students had a chance to start and/or finish their homework.

And it was the fourth student's algebra class.

She had a review assignment.

It was pretty straightforward. After doing the first five questions, she wanted to make sure she was doing it correctly. As I don't read Braille, she read off the answers she got and I checked them against the teacher's textbook. Things were going great.

Then, she called me over for help with 3y - 8 = 5y + 2y. We got it simplified to 3y - 8 = 7y, but she didn't know what to do next. And I was kind of stuck for a way to help her.

See, normally at this point I'd pull out some scratch paper or commandeer the board and write the whole thing out. Then we'd work it out together. But I couldn't show her this as she couldn't see what I would have been doing.

I tried saying out loud what I normally would write, because I don't just give answers. I want the student to understand, so I try to lead them to the answer by asking the right questions.

Eventually I got the "OH!" of recognition, and after that she was fine. But now I know I rely too heavily on showing how it's done.

Which leads to the question: how does one teach algebra to the visually impaired? I know it's done. I'll have to ask her teacher the next time I see her.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

No Prisons

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 ;)

My questions have gotten a bit simpler of late. In my imagination, each of these questions has so many sub-questions that I want to leave open to your interpretation. Like this one...

What if we had no prisons?

Monday, February 16, 2015

All Apologies

I spent three days in the middle school art class. Three of the classes were pretty good. One was freakish (read: silent). And the fifth...well...

There's always that one period.

Three students could not sit still, and these boys were constantly out of their seats for random reasons. One girl was just rude. (She didn't start the age question, but she was there, trying to get it out of me.) As a group they wouldn't settle long enough for me to explain their assignment. And that was on top of the usual middle school stuff I expect.

But it was one period out of the day, so for the most part it was a pleasant assignment. I left my usual note with my email address attached just in case the teacher had any questions for me. Teachers don't usually contact me, so I was surprised to get an email from her.

She thanked me for covering her classes. And she said she had something for me. It turned out to be a stack of apology letters from the difficult class.

Oooh. I love apology letters.

I can tell what sort of conversation the teacher had with them from the tone of the letters. Certain themes were repeated. For example, from rude girl:
Dear Ms. A
Sorry for my poor behavior. I know you deserve more respect than what you got out of us. I know you were trying your hardest to keep us under control but I still chose to mis-behave, so again I'm sorry. I'll actualy try to be well behaved.
I hope they're better for the next sub. It'll be interesting to see if they've learned anything from this. Would I cover the class again? Sure. Like I said, the other four classes were just fine.

Friday, February 13, 2015

Under 99

"How old are you?"

Me: "Over 21."

Student: "But under what?"

Me: "100."

Student: "You have to use a two-digit number."

Me: "Okay. I'm under 99."

The student didn't like this. He was going to pester me until I told him. And I wasn't going to tell him. I tried going the asking-someone's-age-is-rude route, but he wasn't having that either. So, he started grasping at straws.

Student: "You can't use any number bigger than 50."

Me: "But what if I'm over 50?"

Other students chimed in to say that I didn't look like I was over 50. Defeated, the boy said I had to use 65.

Me: "Okay, I'm under 65."

I suppose I should just tell them my age. But I don't want to.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Suffering by Comparison

Middle school art.

There are certain behaviors I expect when I get this sort of assignment. I expect the class to remain seated. I expect the class to have a project that they're working on. I expect to see decent progress being made.

I expect a certain amount of noise. Students talking while working isn't unheard of. I worry about things getting out of hand, but I allow a bit more noise in an art class than I normally would tolerate.

After lunch. The class filed in. Got into their seats. Sat facing forward. Watching me. Silently. Before the bell rang.

It was eerie.

I passed out their assignment before the bell rang. (All those eyes on me. Waiting.) I explained what they were to do. I released them to their work.

And they got to work. Silently.

I don't know who these children are, but there is some freaky magic going on with them. (It must be their teacher.)

The next period filed in. Sniping at each other. One girl kept saying one boy's name over and over and over again. I couldn't get them to stop talking long enough to explain their assignment.

One girl was so happy to see me. She said her teacher hated the class.

Um, yeah. I can see why.

(For the record: two really freaky quiet classes. One relatively normal art class. One class that started off freaky silent but they got talkative as the period progressed--in an entertaining way. And they were totally on-task. And the last group of the day was typical middle school. So, not a bad day on balance.)

Wednesday, February 11, 2015


John came into class in a state. He was livid.

It was a special ed science class, and it turned out that I knew many of the kids from previous classes. Which can be a good or bad thing, depending.

John came right up to me and complained. About measles.

The whole anti-vaxxer measles thing has apparently been a discussion in some classes. Or among students. I don't know. I do know that John was angry, so I let him vent.

He couldn't understand why people thought there was a link between vaccines and autism. John explained that he had Asperger's, so he was qualified to have an opinion. He fumed about how vaccines have to do with the immune system while autism has to do with the brain.

I nodded and let him vent.

What could I say? I wasn't going to argue with him. I agree with him.

Ah well. I tried to explain some of the history of it all, but I don't know if it helped. The bell rang, and I had to start class.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Out of the Box

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 ;)

Not so much a what if this week as a WTF, but I saw this on Twitter, thought it was funny, and figured it was better than what I could come up with. So...
Answer it. Treat it like a koan. Laugh.

Happy Tuesday.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Page 286

Biology class. Special ed. Their assignment was to define the terms on page 286 in their textbook. It was a chapter on Mendel and heredity.

I don't know how many times I said, "Page 286." Many. More than a dozen. And it was parroted by half the class. It was also written on the board. Which I pointed out.

More than half the class worked diligently. A few of them spent more time talking than working. Typical.

I'm not sure why I needed to look at this one boy's paper. Something about the number of terms. There should have been 18. He claimed there were 16. But one of the terms had two words in it, so I went over to investigate.

When I glanced at the boy's paper, something stood out. The terms. Gamete. Zygote. Um, I should be seeing heterozygous and homozygous. There was something wrong here...

"Page 286? You said page 256."

Um, no. He had done the wrong chapter.


Apparently, this was not the first time he had defined terms from the wrong chapter. The last time the aide had given him credit rather than making him do the correct terms. This time she wasn't so sure.

Someone needs to pay closer attention when instructions are being given. (And it turned out he wasn't the only one.)

Friday, February 6, 2015

The Next Line

It was one of those weeks where nothing exciting happened. Well, nothing worth blogging about. So, here it is, Friday. And that means I should find some sort of random quiz.

I went to last week's quiz. Clicked on the Sporcle. And found this.

It's been years since I last saw Ferris Bueller's Day Off. I'm not that big a fan. But I did buy this...

Bueller Movie Synopsis geek t shirt retro 80s high school flick rating tshirt men husband boyfriend brother son gift tee
T-shirt from you-know-what...
...for my brother one Christmas. So I at least had to try.

I took my time. Skipped a couple and went back to them. And got 20/20.  

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Excuse the Tardy

After the incident I described on Monday, I was a little wary of the ED class. The instructional assistant (IA) informed me that if any students were tardy to mark them as such no matter their excuse.

About 10 minutes after the bell, a girl swept in. She was in a bit of a state. Her bus had been late. The panic in her voice was much more than the situation warranted, at least from my perspective. But she had no late bus pass (yes, they have them, and I've seen them often), so I marked her tardy.

The girl then explained to the rest of the class how worried she'd been. She was at the bus stop on time. She waited. And waited. And when the bus didn't arrive, she was sure she had been left. She said that she heard sirens and thought they were for her.

I informed the IA of the situation and that I had marked her tardy.

Well, this was going to be a problem. Because, it turns out the girl has to be at school, and if she is late, she needs it to be excused.

However, it was the girl's responsibility to get the tardy cleared by getting that late bus pass, something that the teacher and IA have been telling her for a while now. So, the IA escorted the girl to the attendance office to make her get the thing cleared up.

It was only later that I noticed that she was wearing an ankle monitor.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

EOS Egg Lip Balm Holder Pattern

Right, so as you know, I've been making and selling these little things... my Etsy shop, Zizi Rho Designs. They're fun. And they're easy to make.

So easy that I've been meaning to make the pattern available for some time. But just haven't gotten around to it.

Well, today's the day.

First, the preliminaries...

This holder is crocheted using Caron Simply Soft Yarn on a size G hook. The other things you'll need are a lobster claw clasp (big enough to fit over the yarn), a tapestry needle, and a stitch marker. I'm not sure how much yarn this takes to make, but it isn't much at all, so I'd suggest you go into your stash for the yarn rather than buying new.

I'm using the usual abbreviations--sc=single crochet; sl st=slip stitch; ch=chain

Gauge: 17 sc and 18 rows over 4 inches
This is one of those projects that is so small that making a gauge swatch is kind of silly. What I suggest is that you keep an EOS Egg Lip Balm on hand and plop it in at about round 6. If it won't fit, add a stitch to the first round. If it's very loose (there should be a little ease, but not so much that it'll fall out), subtract a stitch from the first round.  

This is worked in a spiral, so make sure to mark the beginning of each round as you pass it. It's very easy to lose track if you don't mark it. (Not that I have any experience with that...)

The Pattern:
Ch 3. Sl st into the first chain, making a loop.
Round 1: Work 9 sc into the ch 3 loop.
Round 2: 2 sc in each sc from previous round (18 sc)
Round 3: *2 sc in 1st sc, sc in next sc*, repeat these 3 sc all the way around (27 sc)
Rounds 4-8: Continue working one sc into each sc (27 sc)
Round 9*(also see note below): *Sc into each of the next 7 sc, sc 2 together*, repeat 2 more times (24 sc)
Round 10: *Sc into each of the next 6 sc, sc 2 together*, repeat 2 more times (21 sc)

Finishing: Cut yarn. Draw the yarn all the way through the loop. Then put that yarn on the tapestry needle, and loop the yarn around the base of the next sc and up and through the top of the final sc. If you've never done this before, here's a great video I found showing exactly what I'm talking about:

Wind in ends. The cozy will need a little blocking at this point to make the top even, but once that it done, it's done

*On round 9, you'll also be attaching the claw clasp. It doesn't matter which stitch you attach it to (I usually attach it to the 4th stitch). Where you want to attach it, remove the hook from the piece, pull the loop out, slide the clasp (open part facing towards the piece) over the stitch, replace the hook, and continue crocheting. On the next round you'll need to push the clasp out of the way to work a stitch into that stitch, but then it's completely secure.

It's a pretty simple pattern. If you do make it, I'd love to see your results. You can comment here or tag me on Ravelry. (I'm ZiziRho, and you can find the pattern page here.) Let me know what you think.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Just a Dream

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 ;)

What if you didn't actually wake up this morning?

Monday, February 2, 2015


"I know, today is normally a blue day. I have blue. See," and she opened her bag to show the boy who asked the question a pair of jeans and a blue plaid shirt, "and I'll change. These are my pajamas."

I wasn't sure what to expect. This class is considered special ed. ED. Which stands for emotionally disturbed.

It was actually a pretty peaceful day.

As soon as the instructional assistant (IA) stepped out of the room for some reason (she told me, but I don't recall why), the girl approached me. Could she go to the restroom and change out of her pajamas (which looked more like sweats than pajamas)?

I didn't see a problem with that.

The girl returned in a reasonable amount of time. By that time the IA had returned as well. She approached me and informed me quietly that the girl was not supposed to leave the room unescorted. Oops.

Apparently, the girl must be escorted everywhere. The IA took her to her next class and escorted her to snack. The girl knows this, but she waited until the IA was otherwise occupied to ask the clueless sub to let her leave the room unattended.

Ah well. At least nothing untoward happened. I would have felt terrible.