Monday, November 30, 2015

Other Uses

When I knit (or crochet) something, I have a purpose in mind. I have an idea of how I think the item will be used. But, that doesn't mean that everyone will see these things the same way I do.

Remember my gift card holders?

gift card holder, knitted item, Z

Originally they were intended as a solution for those who want to give something handmade and/or unique to those people (such as the teens in your life) who only want gift cards as gifts. These illustrated my A to Z posts this year. I also sell them in my Etsy shop, Zizi Rho Designs. I have put these little knitted pouches out at my farmers market appearances.

 Knitted Gift Card Holders

And they get the occasional look. At the last one, one lady saw them and saw a different use. They were the perfect size to fit her car's key fob.

But, she wondered if I could add a drawstring. Well, yeah, I can do that...

J Key Fob Holder

Because why not? Something I hadn't considered.

And finally, I'm going to go back on my no more spiders promise. My uncle thought the little guy needed to be animated...

Spider Playing with Cube gif

Friday, November 27, 2015

Quotation or Misquotation

For Random Quiz Friday (it's back! Well, just for today. No one is checking out blogs today, are they?) I found something from Oxford Dictionaries.

“I always have a quotation for everything – it saves original thinking.” So said the gentleman detective Lord Peter Wimsey in Dorothy L Sayers’ Have His Carcase (1932) – providing us with a handy quotation. But before you start believing everything you hear, make sure you know whether or not a quotation was actually said. We’ve lined up ten quotations in this quiz – but which are real and which (though commonly and mistakenly referred to) are fake?
I got 80%. Pretty good. I said one quote was a misquote and one misquote I called a quote. But otherwise I'm pretty proud of myself.

How'd you do?

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Not Interested in Free Food

It was Turkey Day. It's an old tradition at the continuation high school, going back to practically when the school started (so, that makes it from the '60s). The Thursday before Thanksgiving the students are served a turkey dinner lunch brunch.

This year I covered the orientation class. The orientation class is the first class students new to the school take. (Every student is a transfer from another school. They get sent there because they don't have enough credits.) And this class started two days prior. So, they were brand new to the school.

They were a bit unclear as to the whole concept. Which was fine as I wasn't.

One of the students' names was called. And she didn't want to go.

I explained what it was. That it was food. And the food was pretty good. That the people were friendly. But nope, she wasn't going to go.

Well, I wasn't going to force her.

Each time a new group was announced, the students got a bit anxious. And unlike in other classes, these kiddos were doing their work (well, sort of) rather than not doing anything (which is what students who have been through Turkey Day before would have been doing). So, not a terrible day.

My time with them ended, and they moved on to their other class. I was free then, so I got a chance to have a meal. And then the majority of those students were called.

I guess they just needed to go with their classmates. Safety in numbers and all that.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Tentative Alliance

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 the two people you need to complete a task (a big task, such as making sure the building stays secure so that the zombies can't get in) hated each other (so much so that each would willingly toss the other to said zombies, and the only thing keeping that from happening is you)?

Monday, November 23, 2015

Blowing in the Wind, Part 2

It was another Sunday at the farmers market. It wasn't going to be too hot. It wasn't going to be too cold. Mid-sixties with the sun shining.

blue sky with clouds

farmers market setup

It wasn't terribly busy, but we had a bit of traffic. Not quite the Christmas rush yet. And it was a very nice morning.

Afternoon hit, and so did the winds.

I've previously mentioned my run in with winds. So, I thought I was fine. Until the first gusts started...

My entire canopy inched over (and it is staked down in the back), knocking over that white side table. And dumping everything on the ground. But I got off lucky.

A jewelry vendor's canopy went flying, knocking down her table and destroying all her displays. The Scentsy vendor lost a $50 warmer. And everyone else was busy trying to keep their stuff from going everywhere.

I had to start holding my canopy because the gusts were that strong. (The winds in between the gusts were things my displays could handle.)

The singer (there's a live musician who performs every week) started singing "Blowing in the Wind". Very apropos.

Well, it didn't take long for everyone to realize that the canopies were dangerous at this point...

farmers market table

And everyone pretty much packed up.

Of course, by the time the market was pretty much done due to winds, the gusts died down. Naturally. Ah well...

Friday, November 20, 2015

Caught with Cell Phone

Friday. I had a very small, very well-behaved ELL class. (ELL stands for English language learners, meaning that they're fairly new to the country and not all that fluent in English yet.) The first thing on the agenda was SSR. (Silent sustained reading, meaning that they're supposed to pull out a book and read for 10-15 minutes.)

Most had books. A couple of the students explained that they usually read on their phones. This is not the first time I've heard this, so I allowed it. (Making sure they were reading books and not texting, of course.)

The room got silent. They were all reading. So, I got busy with something else. (I don't remember what. I was either writing something or reading something.)

Then the assistant principal and a counselor walked in. As is usual, a pair of them will walk into class to do a "dress code check". I recognize what they're there for right away, so I nod when they tell me. They gaze around the room and generally they walk right back out. Which is what they did this time.

It was only after they left that I remembered--two of the students had cell phones out. Um...

I had kind of hoped not to be caught allowing cell phones out. But then again, more and more teachers are using them in their lesson plans. And it wasn't like the students were goofing off.

But still, I felt like I had been caught doing something I shouldn't have been. Even though I didn't get into trouble for it.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Not John

And yet another tale from that science class from early October. (You didn't believe me when I said these posts would take until Christmas to complete, did you?) 

"What are we, in kindergarten?"

The 8th graders were not pleased that Ms. O had asked that they check out the pair of scissors they needed for their projects. All they had to do was write their names and the color of the scissors' handle. And then scratch their name off the list when they returned the scissors.

Simple enough, right?

Near the end of first period, I took the list and the box of scissors and went around the room, collecting. They replaced the scissors and crossed off their names.

"John Smith... I'm John Smith..."

And if that hadn't been red flag enough...

"Psst, John. I crossed off your name. I'm John Smith."

Have I mentioned that they're really bad at lying about their names?

The students around "John" called him Chris. And I had a semi-accurate seating chart with pictures. So I confirmed that his name was, in fact, Chris.

He hadn't done anything name-in-note worthy, so I wasn't sure why the name lie. Especially since as I was collecting scissors, I wasn't paying attention, really. I was just making sure I got a pair of scissors back and a name was crossed off. But the fact he felt the need to lie...

Yep. Name-in-note. For lying about his name.

The next day his name was on the board. He'd earned a detention. And why was explained on the board for everyone to see.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Shut Up Sheet

8th grade math class. Which I was looking forward to with quite a bit of trepidation. Things have not been going so well with the 8th graders so far this year.

When the lesson plan hinted that the students should be working quietly, I scoffed. Never going to happen, I thought.

The class arrived. I passed out their work...

"Oh, this is a Shut Up Sheet."

A wha...?

And they did. They shut up and worked. (Okay, so they needed a bit of a push to get to silence. But... They did. Get to silence. Whoa!)

I admit, I laughed out loud when I heard "shut up sheet". But it fits. I've met this teacher. He would totally say something like that.

And hey, whatever works...

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Flu Season

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 viruses are a message from another set of peoples (aliens, perhaps) or from another time?

Monday, November 16, 2015

Of Knitted Pyramids (for Electronic Tablets)

Last week I told you all of my madness. (The before shot...)

large knitted pyramid

That is, how I went and frogged a finished project to add one little thing...

base of knitted pyramid

So, here is the completed full-sized pyramid pillow for electronic tablets (such as the iPad). You know, so you can prop up an iPad to look at it easily without appropriating various pillows and placing them in varying configurations.

large knitted pyramid for tablets with purple stripe

Don't see much difference between this pyramid and the other, right? Well, except for that big stripe in the center. There's a reason for that.

It didn't need a stripe. I just felt like adding one in. And, it was kind of strategic. I was reusing the yarn I'd used before, but I couldn't be sure that I wouldn't need more yarn than I had. Was my tension exactly the same as it was two years ago? Since my ends weren't all that long, I couldn't take the chance. So, the stripe made sure that I wouldn't run out of the gray yarn.

It'll support my magnet board just fine...

knitted pyramid prop

I didn't explain last week why I'd gotten the bug to reknit this pyramid. It was because I made another...

knitted tablet prop

...first. And felt like making sure my older pyramid was as nice as this one. Now, there's this beige pyramid still hanging around...

(The pattern for this is available, if you're interested.)

But, I did manage to knit a Christmas tree ornament, too...

knitted ornaments, Christmas tree

The one in the center is new. The other four are left over from last year.

Friday, November 13, 2015

A Comedy of Errors

Friday. A day I know I'll get an extra period assignment and am shocked if I don't. This particular Friday there were four uncovered teachers...

I made sure to get a key as the classroom was on the other side of campus from the classroom I was covering that day. I hiked out there, got through the crowd of waiting students, put my key in the lock... And it wouldn't open.

That's when I noticed the room number on the key. The wrong room number. I got the wrong key.

Borrowing the phone in the classroom next door, I called to get someone to open the door. She got there just after the bell. By the time we got into the room, we had missed the Pledge of Allegiance and about half the morning announcements. But the kiddos filed in, and I went in search of lesson plans.

I found stacks of assignments for seniors. I asked one of the students what grade they were in. 9th. So, that work was not for them. Um...

Before I had a chance to panic, the classroom phone rang. It was the secretary saying she had the lesson plans. (Teachers frequently email them to the school.) So, I found a student who knew where the secretary was and sent her and a classmate to go and retrieve them.

We were at the back of campus. The office was at the front. So, we waited for a bit. With 9th graders. Yeah, it got a bit loud. But not terribly out of control as this was an honors class, meaning a class of the more academically inclined. The fact that they were an honors class is the only reason this is a funny story and not a harrowing one.

The girls made good time considering. I perused the lesson plan and was able to tell the students where to turn in their essays. Discovered they were to watch a video. And realized that I didn't have a class roster to take roll. This was on the computer, and the secretary had neglected to give me a log on.

I went in search of the video. Couldn't find it. The girls who had retrieved the lesson plans read them, so they helped search for the video. They couldn't find it. Finally, another student found it on the third (rather than second, as stated) shelf.

Luckily, I didn't have any technical difficulties, and got the video going. I sent around a sign in sheet in lieu of taking roll. And managed to keep the class in some semblance of order. Phew.

Some days it just goes like this. I've learned to roll with it.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Look at Me

Last week I ended up covering the classes that I started the year off covering. And I ran into the "star" of today's story. And he was just as impossible in the science class as he was in his math class. So, I've learned another student name, and not in a good way.

"I think I broke my toe."

Something to worry about, right? Not really. See, context is everything. And at that exact moment, I was trying to get them all to stop talking so I could start class. This was the same problem I had with them in the math class last week. 

Besides, Blaine didn't appear to be in that much pain. Especially considering how many times he was out of his seat that period. And he wasn't limping.

But at that moment, when apropos of nothing he announced to the whole class his imaginary ailment, I attempted to inform him that perhaps that was not the time for such things.

Which was the main problem with the math class. I attempted to explain what they had to do, but they wouldn't be still long enough for me to get more than two words out. It was frustrating in the extreme. 

That's the thing about 8th graders. They don't get the whole waiting-for-the-appropriate-moment thing. They have to tell you exactly what they're thinking and feeling right now. Never mind that other things may be going on in that moment.

They had all of Tuesday to get started on their assignment. And many did. But on Wednesday, Blaine was in search of materials. Because on Tuesday he did nothing. But he had no cast on his foot Wednesday...

Calling him Blaine is just my snark here. (I don't use their real names.) If you've seen Pretty in Pink, you'll get the reference. Because his actual name...

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Should Have Hid From This One

"I'll just run straight home."

...was the only thing I heard from some conversation at the back of the room. My mind immediately went to earthquake evacuation, and needing to explain why he should remain on campus in such a situation (because a missing student will be looked for), I approached the group. And learned that that was not what they were talking about.

You know what they say about assuming things...

Now I was in the conversation. About what they would do if there was a school shooting. *deep sigh*

This is not the sort of conversation I want to encourage. I don't want to give anyone any ideas. I don't want to scare them. But one of the girls was telling the others about a "riot" at her old school. Which turned into a conversation about what they would do in that situation. Because they're teens.

(Teens tend to be pretty self absorbed. Things tend to be all about them. Try it sometime. Start talking to a teen. See how fast they turn any topic into a definition of themselves.)

So, it turned out the boy was right. Because I remembered seeing a video about what to do in such a situation, and running is the right thing to do.

I managed to find the video for you...

I should mention that this was a high school class. Spanish 2. So, at minimum, they were sophomores. But many were juniors and seniors. (Age wise, that's a minimum of 15 up to age 17.) It would have been a whole different scenario if they had been, like, 12.

The conversation turned to something else shortly after this, so I went back to the front of the room. Only to have a girl call me over. Upset.

When the period started, she had exited the room in tears. For what reason, I have no idea. But now she was barely holding it together again. She asked if she could step out because the conversation the others were having upset her.

*another deep sigh*

I knew not stopping that conversation was going slap me upside the head.

In my defense, I thought they were mature enough to handle the topic. And they really should have some idea what to do if faced with the situation. I didn't start it. I didn't contribute to it (other than mentioning run, hide, and fight). And it ended fairly quickly.

I let the girl step out of class.

And when I saw the teacher at the end of the day, I made sure to tell her all about it. Because one must be careful. (It wasn't like anyone was threatening anything. Just discussing what to do if faced with the situation.)

I love to hear all the sorts of things they talk about. But that can turn on me with no warning.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Written in Stone

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 had the ability to see the future (either psychically or via other means), but you had absolutely no power to change it? 

Monday, November 9, 2015

Reknitting the Pyramid

Once upon a time, I knitted a pyramid pillow for my ereader. For my Nook. Because I wanted to have something to prop it against while I was reading. (Of course, the long story is that in the end, it didn't really work.)

kindle or nook pillow, pyramid pillow, knitted

But just because it didn't work for me didn't mean that others couldn't find a use for it. So, I took the original pattern (which was more of a muslin anyway) and created the Tablet Buddy. It had a better base and sides with a cable to give it interest.

And I sized the pattern up and down so now not only could you use it to prop up an ereader (for a Kindle or Nook or mini-tablet), but you could also use it for your smartphone (it works just fine with my iPhone 6+) or your full sized tablet (iPad or any similarly sized device).

pyramid pillow to hold electronic devices

Since the above picture was taken, I have managed to part with the small (phone) and medium (ereader) sized pillows. But the gray full-sized pyramid is still in my possession...

pyramid pillow, knitted pillow, tablet support

It's been a fixture at my farmers market outings, many times holding up the magnet board...

electronic device supports, pillow pyramids

But since I knit that pyramid, I have made some tweaks to the pattern. Well, not to the pattern itself. I've just added putting a triangular piece of cardboard in the bottom so that the pyramid sits flat on any surface. (This was a suggestion in the comments for the muslin version's page on Ravelry.) It stabilizes the thing very nicely.

Every phone prop I now make has this added feature. (The "Knitted Desk Cell Phone Holder" is also available ready-made via Zizi Rho Designs on Etsy.) And it just occurred to me that perhaps it was time to add cardboard to the bottom of my other pyramid pillows. (By "just" I mean last week.)

First step, take the pillow apart.

So, I did this. I frogged the whole pyramid and started reworking it...

knitted base, knitting in progress

Only this time, I'm adding in the cardboard at the bottom. (I cover the cardboard in duct tape. Just because. No one's ever going to see it, but it makes me feel better.)

knitted base, cardboard support

I'm thinking of adding in a purple stripe as well. I should have the thing remade by this time next week. I hope. If I get it done, I'll post pics.

Because, you know, instead of doing any Christmas gift knitting or ornament knitting for my various markets, I'd rather reknit something that was finished ages ago.

Friday, November 6, 2015

The Ugly

Some days I should really just turn off my phone.

Last Friday. The day before Halloween. Many of the kiddos were in costume.

It was a minimum day (end of the quarter). So, not only were they wound up due to Halloween, but they were also anticipating and early release from school.

Oh, and I must mention that we had a fire drill.

So, the day was bad enough. Add in that I had a 7th grade class. That has had a succession of subs since the beginning of the year. (The teacher's out on maternity leave.)

This is the recipe for chaos.

Yeah, it was bad. By the end of the day I had no voice left. I'll leave it at that.

Have a pleasant weekend.

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Broken Ruler

It's that time again. Time to share a story from that 8th grade science class from a month ago now. Since I talked about Brian last week, I thought I'd share what he got up to on the day he was in class. And his partner in crime was one of the students from my first week of school. (Several students in these classes I knew from the first week. I don't know if that made things easier for me or harder.)

I was doing something else when I heard the commotion. Brian and JD were tussling over a ruler. Each had both hands on it, trying to claim it for himself.

I was across the room. Naturally. (They were in the last two desks in the top right hand corner of the picture.) I headed for them immediately.

I also called out for them to stop. Which they didn't hear or ignored. (Considering the noise level in the room, "didn't hear" is a likely option.)

I tried to get to them, but couldn't. It's like one of those dreams where you're walking in water or stuck in quicksand. Five different students got in my way, either physically as they were up and roaming or just with questions. Stuff I had to ignore if I was going to...


The ruler broke in half. (I was going to take a picture, but it didn't show up very well. It wasn't a clean break. The wooden ruler was kind of bent, but splintered, so dead ruler.)

That's when I got to them. Took the broken ruler from them. Informed them they had detention and just lost all "ruler privileges". (The teacher said any names left by me got detention, so at bare minimum that's what they got.)

"But we need a ruler to do the assignment."

Tough. They just broke one of the few that were left.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Uncomfortable Stare

The class was called Introduction to Health Care Careers. The students were grouped into partners, and each group had their own station. Each station explored a different health care career such as optometry, dentistry, nursing, veterinary, and a few others that I can't recall off the top of my head.

They were working on one of their activities. I walked the room, made sure most were on task, and then I took a seat at the teacher's desk. And repeated several times during class.

The two girls right behind me claimed that they had finished this activity already, so they were watching something on YouTube. Not ideal, but these were the kinds of students I trusted, so I didn't give them a hard time, just taking a look at what they were looking at before moving on.

I was in my seat when I heard the crash behind me. Both girls had fallen out of their chairs.

So, they weren't on task, but now it was clear that they weren't peacefully entertaining themselves. Now they had my undivided attention.

(From what I could gather, whatever they had been watching on one of their phones shocked them so badly they backed away quickly and... Of course, they found this very, very funny. So, not sure if it was something funny that made them fall or something scary.)

They did not like this one bit. I was staring. And they were "uncomfortable". Well, yeah. Them falling out of their chairs makes me uncomfortable.

They protested loudly that I was now watching them. One picked up her phone to "film" me. "You don't like that, do you?" No, not really, but I'll put up with it to make sure you don't hurt yourself.

I waited for them to settle into whatever it was they were going to do before turning my attention away. But my attention on them made them keep their attention on me. And they were angry.

And I needed their names. Because the station they were at did not have students assigned. Naturally, one girl called the other by her name. (If I had asked their names, they would have lied. But if I don't tell them I'm looking for names so I can write them down, someone will let a name slip.)

Girls falling out of their chairs definitely need a mention in the note.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

A Bad Reputation

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 the worst thing you ever did was the only thing anyone knew about you?