Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Crazy Knitting Week

I meant to post this on Monday, but last week kind of got away from me. Last week, I mentioned that I had set myself the task of knitting five hats by Christmas. I managed to succeed. At 8 PM on Christmas Eve, I finished sewing on the dinosaurs.

But I'm getting ahead of myself.

I already showed you my progress from Friday the 18th through Sunday the 20th.

On Thursday night, I started with the first of the twins' hats. I finished that Friday and started on Archer Girl's hat, which I finished on Sunday. (Archer Girl is my niece. She's 14.)

Sneaky Snakes knitted hat
Sneaky Snakes

Sunday night, I then started Rambo's hat. (Rambo is the middle nephew. He's 5.) There are two pictures because the hat is reversible. Rambo seemed to like it inside out. (Well, I consider this inside out.)

E-ola Reversible Hat

I finished Rambo's hat on Monday the 21st. Tuesday I started HapkidoKid's. (This is the eldest nephew. He turned 10 on Saturday.)

Nottingham knitted hat

It doesn't look it from the picture, but this hat is much smaller than the others. It stretches pretty well, but it still looked small to me. Yet, HapkidoKid still rolled it up. So, not too small.

After finishing HapkidoKid's hat on Wednesday, I started the last twin's hat late Wednesday night. I didn't get as far as I would have liked, but I did manage to get it finished Thursday afternoon. And I sewed the dinosaurs on in the evening.

They both have the "rarr!" on the back, but it was hard to show that in a picture.

Everything got wrapped Christmas day. And opened not an hour later.

So, a win. And a hope that I don't wait until the very last moment next year to do my Christmas knitting. Sigh.

(Apologies for the quality of the photos. It was after 9 PM Christmas Eve, and the lighting was poor. But it was either take the photos then or not at all.)

Tuesday, December 29, 2015


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 there were no rich people?

Friday, December 25, 2015

The Perfect Christmas Quiz

question marks by zizi rho

 I was going to skip posting today, but then I found this perfect quiz. And I had to share:

On my own I got 30/60. I recommend that you take this quiz with your family and/or friends. It's hard. Some of these icons are obscure. But on the bright side, the quiz is very forgiving. If you have a vague idea of what one of them is, type it in. It's probably enough to get you a right answer.

Edited 12/28: In case you want to know the answers to the ones you didn't know, check out the comments from the Mental Floss article where I found the quiz in the first place

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Need a Ticket

And this is it. The last one of the posts from that 8th grade science class. Since no one is around the blogosphere this week, I considered holding off. But, I did promise to have these finished by Christmas. So here it is. The last one...

Last week I mentioned that In-n-Out was catering lunch on the second day of this assignment. To get a burger (and chips, not fries), the students had to purchase a ticket. I learned of this from the 1st period T.A. She was selling tickets, and several students hit her up for them.

Wednesday. 4th period. Right before lunch.

"Can I go and buy an In-n-Out ticket?"

As in, she wanted to leave class to do this. When she had days to go and get a ticket.

"But if I don't buy a ticket, I can't get In-n-Out. Ms. O. would let me go..."

Maybe. Unlikely, but maybe. Still, she'd had days, and...

 Lack of Planning... 

She grumbled. "...Mom only gave me the money today..."

So, she waited until 4th period? When she could have gone before school. Or at snack. (Or asked any of her other teachers to let her go. Because I'm sure they would have let her *sarcasm*.) I had no sympathy.

But she was mad. She'd miss out. And it was my fault.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

A Fourth Name

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 ;)

Many of us have three names: first, middle, and last. Our last names are used in formal situations. Our first names are used among friends and peers. And our middle names...are hidden on our driver's licences. Usually.

What if was had more names? Other names? How might they be used?

This is the sort of fantasy world-building thought that'll flit through my brain from time to time. The original thought was, "What if we had four names?"

Monday, December 21, 2015

Bah Humbug

So. I, ah... Yeah, Christmas. I haven't really been thinking all that much about Christmas. Which hit me last week right about Thursday. I, uh, haven't started any Christmas knitting. And I've got a niece and four nephews.


I made a sort of plan. I have no idea if I'm going to be able to execute it. Five hats. In a week. Knitted. By me.

And now my nose is alternating between stuffy and runny.

Sunday night (as I write this), I have managed, since Thursday, to complete two hats.

two knitted hats

So, maybe this is doable?

I'm in denial.

In other news, I noticed some of my Etsy traffic was coming from a new source. I traced it back and found this article on nerdy EOS lip balm holders. That last picture in the article is from my shop.

It gave my shop quite a few more views than normal. Kind of cool.

Right, so back to the knitting. I've got three more hats to finish by Christmas. I'm not sure which nephew I'm going to knit for next.

Friday, December 18, 2015

Dressing for the Weather

It was an easily distractible 7th grade math class. "Easily distractible" is code for "just as soon as the class gets settled, someone will sneeze, and a chorus of 'bless you' will erupt in a louder and louder spiral that soon becomes an entire class engaged in random conversation".

Seriously. It could be anything. Anything will set them off.

(The opposite of "easily distractible" is when the fire alarm will start blaring. We get a fast "all clear". And in seconds, the students are again working silently. I have seen both scenarios play out.)

This particular class did work silently. In fits and starts. But a dust mote would start the talking again. I couldn't move from my spot in the front center of the room, because the talking would start.

Deep sigh.

They had just settled to silence (again) when it started to rain. Loudly.

"Is it raining?" and the boy jumped up to go look out the window.

"P.E. will be cancelled," with the immediate response, "No, we'll have to run in the gym."

"I'm not going outside."

"I wore shorts today."

Yep, any little thing and they all have to chime in. But the boy complaining that he wore shorts? (He wasn't alone. At least 4 of the 17 in class were in shorts. But that's pretty normal around here.) I had something to say to that boy.

The forecasted high for the day was about 65°. With a 10% chance of rain. (According to my weather app.)

I explained to the boy that it was his responsibility to check the weather (and weather apps on their phones are ubiquitous) so he could dress appropriately.

"But that's my mother's job."

Me: "Does your mother pick out your clothes?"


Oh. Never mind, then. He's right. That would be her job...

Also, this is my week at Unicorn Bell. I'd love it if you'd stop by. I'm talking about social media marketing.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

An Early Lunch

Guess what? This is the penultimate post in this series. Yep, we're nearing the end. I had this 8th grade science class near the beginning of October, and I've finally gotten most of the stories that class generated posted. Hooray!  

In-n-Out was catering lunch on the second day of the assignment. The school had lengthened the lunch period so everyone could get their burgers. They took a minute from each passing period.

I'm generally understanding to students who barely make it on days like this (unless they give me reason not to be).

Unless they run into the room way after the bell. Laughing.

"Can we leave a couple minutes early for lunch?"

Normally, the answer would have been no. This group? It was more of a "hell no" (with a silent "hell").

"But Ms. O would let us go..."

Possible, but unlikely.

Besides, we were probably the closest classroom to the line. They already had a head start.

Also, this is my week at Unicorn Bell. I'd love it if you'd stop by. I'm talking about social media marketing.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Shorted Test

When I got to school, the teacher was in his classroom. He had jury duty, but he had a couple hours before he had to report to get his lesson plans set up.

His psychology classes had a test. He noticed he didn't have enough copies, so he went and made some more.

The psychology class arrived. I gave instructions. I passed out the tests...

They weren't settling. I barked at them, and that's when they showed me the problem.

The tests were missing a page.

(What had happened: the second page of the test was on the back of the first page. The teacher copied the fronts of the pages, but not the back. He had been in a hurry.)

So, I switched tests out, replacing short tests with complete ones. Until I ran out of complete ones with a few students still in need.

That's when I noticed the document camera. I know how to set that up...

Well, sort of. I booted up the computer, clicked on the software, and got a loading message for way too long. Long story short (too late), I eventually got everything working, but I had to restart everything first. I think I hadn't waited long enough for everything to boot up and connect before trying to get the document camera to work.

At least they were juniors and seniors. A freshman class would have devolved into chaos way before things got sorted.

In the end, everyone got to see that second page, whether projected on the screen or in the copy on their desks.

That's the thing about subbing. You gotta roll with it and try to fix those random unexpected problems that crop up.

Also, this is my week at Unicorn Bell. I'd love it if you'd stop by. I'm talking about social media marketing.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

On Repeat

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 ;)

I'm not sure why I thought of this right now, but you know the Groundhog Day episode? Most sci-fi shows that last more than a couple seasons have one. Star Trek had at least one. Personally, I think Stargate: SG1 hit it out of the park in theirs. And I'm sure you can give me many other examples in the comments.

But it seems like they always focus on the one person who knows they're in a time loop. So...

What if you got stuck in a time loop, but didn't know it? Would those that were aware of the problem be able to convince you that today is continuing to repeat over and over and over again?

Also, this is my week at Unicorn Bell. I'd love it if you'd stop by. I'm talking about social media marketing.

Monday, December 14, 2015

Design Fail

Because I searched out cell phone stands on Etsy (looking at the competition) for...

 A gift for your friend who's always on the phone

...I get like items "suggested". And the other day, this popped up...

Ceramic cell phone holder, Parkmiphone

...and I was fascinated. Those are ceramic scrolls. Isn't that cool? (If you click on the picture, it'll take you to the listing.)

Then my brain engaged, and I thought, "I wonder if I could knit something like that?" 

Turns out, right now, the answer is no. Because I've tried. Knit a long strip. Rolled it up. But the ereader (I made it bigger to fit my Nook) will not stay put. 

Deep sigh. 

I'm not sure what else I need to make this work. Maybe it won't work. I'm open to hearing any ideas. 

Friday, December 11, 2015

A Missing Cell Phone Charger

Pedro: Do you have a charger? 

Pedro had his cell phone in his hand, and it looked like he was about to ask me if he could borrow my charger so that he could charge his phone. 

Me: No.

P: (incredulous) You don't?

Me: Why would I need to have my charger? 

P: To charge your phone. 

Me: Have you even seen my phone? 

P: You don't have a phone?!? 

Me: I didn't say that. I just said you haven't seen it. I haven't been on it. So, why would I need my charger? 

P: You might need to charge your phone. You might not charge it overnight and it could get low. 

Me: Why? I'm not using it. 

P: But it could lose power... What does it matter that you haven't been on it? 

Me: You asked me if I had my charger. 

P: And you told me you weren't using your phone. 

Me: After you questioned why I didn't have my charger. 

P: No, I didn't. 

Seriously. This isn't verbatim (I truncated it a bit), but it's pretty close. And in this amount of time Pedro managed to forget that he started this line of inquiry. Sigh. 

Of course, none of this is truly relevant. Even if I had had my charger, I wouldn't have lent it to him. Not that I cared if he charged his phone (a charging phone is a phone the student is not using during class). We have different phones, and my charger would not have connected to his phone anyway.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Hidden Supplies

It was near the beginning of October when I covered this 8th grade science class. And only now am I seeing the bottom of these posts. Just a couple more now, and we'll be done with them... until the next time I'm called to cover for this teacher. Probably.

Giving 8th graders a project with a sub is not a great idea. Apparently, the teacher realized this after seeing my note from Tuesday. (She stopped by in between Tuesday and Wednesday to change the lesson plan and update the board.) Because they were insane.

And then Wednesday... Ah... They weren't great, but there was marked improvement in their behavior.

I think the missing supplies helped.

On Tuesday, there was a project example, scissors, and glue sticks. Since they needed none of those Wednesday, they mysteriously disappeared.

(Not really. I found the project example in a drawer. And the other supplies were probably locked in the closet. Which I had a key to. But I left everything put away and played dumb. "I don't know where they went.")

They had all period Tuesday to set up their projects. Cut the flaps. Glue down the graph paper. And many did. Yet, on Wednesday, several students who had been present Tuesday had projects with none of this done.

So, they went looking for the supplies. And whined that they needed to work on their projects. Even though Wednesday they were supposed to work on a vocabulary assignment instead.

Some of the students who had set up their projects continued to work on them, and I let them. And many of them finished their projects and managed to start their vocabulary assignment. (The project was due Thursday. The vocabulary assignment was due Friday. What they didn't get done in class they had to finish for homework.)

But the ones who had been playing around, the ones who made Tuesday hell, were the ones who had nothing done.

Yeah, I felt no sympathy for them. Maybe this will teach them to make better use of their time.

It won't. But I'd like to pretend it will.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015


7th grade English. They're doing a unit on bottled water versus tap water. Reading and analyzing articles on the subject. 

Each group had been given a sentence to analyze. UnPAC: paraphrase, annotate, and I can't remember what C stood for. Then they had questions to answer.

A group called me over. One of their members was distracting them.  

I already had my eye on the boy. While I was explaining the assignment, he flipped his eyelids--something my optometrist does to look at the insides, but not something that's classroom appropriate. 

He didn't even have the assignment out of his backpack. So, clearly not contributing to the group. 

As I had classrooms to send him out to, I asked the group if I should send him out of class. They did not say yes (they didn't say anything), but they nodded and/or by their body language indicated he was only hindering their progress. So, I told the boy he had to go. 

He promised he'd work if he got one more chance...

(The "one more chance" thing... It's good when I'm giving a warning. But when I've gotten to the consequence portion of the conversation, "one more chance" means the student was able to talk me out of the consequence. And chaos ensues. I've learned this one the hard way, so now when I've gotten to the point when I've enacted the consequence, I know I have to follow through.) 

When he didn't immediately leave (I walked away to take care of something else and then returned to find him still sitting with no movement towards getting ready to go), I went back and stood over him. "But my group said I could stay." 

I don't know where he got that impression. They looked to me like he couldn't exit the classroom soon enough. Was he oblivious? Didn't matter anyway. I had made the decision and I'd own it. He had to go.

Then he claimed that I'd said he could stay. (What? Because I'd walked away to deal with another issue?) So, rather than argue, I told him I'd changed my mind. 

Still, he wouldn't budge. It wasn't until I explained his choices now were the other classroom or the office with a referral that he started packing up. 

On his way out he threw his last bomb. Said I was racist. Because my kicking him out for non-work and then refusing to let him stay was racially motivated. (At moments like this I am so tempted to agree. Sarcastically. But, unfortunately, the sarcasm will be missed by the student in question.) 

(And he still managed to come back twice more. The first time was because classroom number one was locked. Classroom number two was watching a movie. Excuses, excuses.) 

For the record, this is not the first time a student has accused me of racism. It's interesting to note, however, that I only get accused of racism by students who are getting a consequence for some infraction. In classes that do their work and behave wonderfully, I never get accused of such things. 

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Bouncing Through Time

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? today as a Would you rather? (I've been struggling with figuring out a question all week, so I hope you will forgive me.)

If you had the option of living forever or having unlimited access to a time machine, which one would you choose (and no, you can't do both)?

Monday, December 7, 2015

Knitting the Ornaments

Lately, I've been knitting...

knitted ornament

...Christmas tree ornaments. Some have beads...

beaded, blue, purple, ornaments, knitted

Well, most have beads. I spent a good hour on Sunday looking for a good place to photograph some of them. (I may list them in my shop, depending on whether or not I can get good pictures taken.)

orange, beaded, knitted, ornament

Unfortunately, the light wasn't quite right. (Naturally, I had to knit an orange one.) But these pictures aren't that bad. I even made another archery target ornament...

knitted, archery target, ornament

I have about a dozen ornaments made now (give or take). If only I had a Christmas tree...

Oh, and I was a winner! Thanks, Assholes Watching Movies.

A photo posted by Liz A. (@zizirho) on

Friday, December 4, 2015

Generous with Someone Else's Gum

It was the Friday before the Thanksgiving break, and I had an 8th grade science class to boot. Ugh, right? Well, no. Actually not.

Surprisingly, they were pretty good. Talking. But on task. It was one of those days where I didn't have too much to worry about.

Fourth period, a boy got up and started distributing sticks of gum to half the class. As they were not supposed to be eating or chewing gum in class, I warned them all to not open them and start chewing right then. But I thought nothing much of it. The class was working pretty well, and the gum distribution didn't distract the class.

Fifteen minutes later, Renee returned.

Renee had been summoned by someone (I don't pay much attention to too many details when the office calls for a student) for something. She looked at the two boys across from her and demanded her gum back.

Uh oh...

The boys denied having her gum. Well, at that point it was true. (The boy had tossed the empty gum packet.)

Yeah, I wasn't about to let that pass. I told Renee what had happened to her gum. And she was not pleased.

Again, this could have gone really, really badly. Instead, they debated the flavor of the gum. (It was mint. The boys seemed to think it was peppermint.) And Renee insisted that the boys replace the gum. Which they sort of, kind of, hinted that they might just remember to do someday.

Deep sigh.

So, that incident went into the note to the teacher. Because Renee's going to need backup if the boys then try to claim that they don't owe her a pack of gum.

Thursday, December 3, 2015

A Choice

Back to the 8th grade science class. We're getting to the end of these stories. I should finish them before the end of this year. This particular technique works in all sorts of classes, but it was particularly helpful here. 

"This isn't my seat."

Turns out a boy was in her seat, so she took another girl's seat, displacing her, too. I only got the boy to move by letting him know this was a punishable offense. (Detention.)

Naturally, this incident made it into my note.

Wednesday, there was a new warning on the board about assigned seats or detentions.

Yet, I still got the questions. They wanted to sit next to their friends. (Obviously, this was not a good idea.)

Instead of a flat no, I gave them a choice. Sure, they could sit there. But the payment was a detention.

I got no takers. I guess the price was too high.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Stuck on Games

8th grade computers. I'm not sure the exact title of the class, but there was a coding component to it. Supposedly they had an assignment. Which none of them were doing.

Instead, they all seemed to be on Cookie Clicker. The goal of the game, as far as I can tell, is to click on that cookie as many times as they can. Over and over and over again. I haven't discerned why.

Games come and go. Not more than a month ago, it seemed like they were all playing Where they're a little spot and they acquire other little spots until they become a big spot.

Anyway, I knew that they had something they were supposed to be doing, so I browbeat a few of them into checking the online assignment sheet. Dutifully, they clicked on the thing they were supposed to be doing, and they found an error message.

Great. So, I did something I never, ever do. I called the teacher.

He left his phone number in the lesson plan. Many teachers do this, but I try not to call. They're out of class for a reason, and I don't want to disturb them. But with a room full of middle schoolers who had nothing to do...

The teacher sounded awful. Clearly he was sick. I explained the situation. He said he'd check the link.

Five minutes later, the link had been updated. But it ended up taking them to exactly the same site as before (with its error message).

So, they all played Cookie Clicker. One of them figured out how to modify the code so that it clicked all by itself, and all he had to do was sit back and watch. I suppose that was kind of educational...

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Key to the City

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 cities had actual keys? That actually opened something? That actually was useful for something? (You know, when someone gives someone a "key to the city", that it actually worked for something.)