Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Ghost Town

It was Tuesday at the continuation high school, and the place was nearly empty. Lines for food during snack and lunch were nearly nonexistent. And I had three students in class per period.

Much of the school had gone on a field trip.

I heard the numbers, so I did a quick calculation. Roughly 31% of the school went. (It's a small school, so that's not a very large number.)

In fact, that's why I was there. The teacher I covered was one of the chaperones.

So, it was a pretty easy day. Most of those that didn't go didn't want to get up that early. The buses left at 6 AM. Although, a couple just weren't interested.

Where did they go? To the taping of a TV show. (One of the joys of living in L.A. County.)

Hey, it was a nice way for them to get out of the usual. And it made it a really easy day for me.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

To Explore?

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 ;)

Imagine that you've met an extraterrestrial race. The how or why isn't important, only that you now know there's a whole universe of planets to explore. Now, you have been given a choice. You can return to Earth and remain, or you can find a place amongst the star-faring races. Which would you choose?

Monday, August 29, 2016

Victory Lap

The purse, it is finished! Finally.

Instead of gluing the button down (a button that happened to be on clearance), I kind of sewed it on. So, it's not going anywhere.

I was so thrilled to have it finished. I put all my stuff in it... only to discover that I had placed the magnetic clasp a bit too far down. I could get the thing closed, but it made it a very tight fit.

Deep sigh.

But that was an easy fix. I just had to remove the clasp and move it higher up the purse. It didn't take too long to do it, either.

So, now it's done, and I've used it in public. The strap seems to be the right length. The clasp is in the right position. I think I can say it's officially done. (So much so that I've even marked it finished in Ravelry.)

Next I move on to other projects. Halloween. And Christmas. (I actually have a mental list that is huge right now. I won't bog you down with details. I'll just show pics of items in progress once I get to a point where I can show them off.)

What are you working on this week? Finished any troubling projects?

Friday, August 26, 2016

Early Bell

I do keep an eye on the clock. At about two to three minutes until the end of the period, I announce to the class that it's time to clean up. But this day for fifth period, the class was packed up, cleaned up, and waiting by the door way before I made any sort of announcement. So, I asked...

"Why are you lining up at the door now? We've still got five minutes left of class."

"No we don't. We get out at 1:15."

"Nope. Class ends at 1:17." I pulled out a class schedule and showed him.

"But the bell rings at 1:15."

At a certain point the argument gets pointless, so we waited it out. 1:15... 1:16...

And the bell rang.

I was right. Well, sort of. Just because the clocks in the classroom were about 30 seconds slow does not negate this.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Lost Pass

It was the very end of the day in the science class at the continuation high school. A student returned from the restroom.

"Pass." I held out my hand.

The boy looked at the floor. "I lost it."

He had been gone a reasonable length of time. It wasn't a long distance. The passes are the size of a half sheet of paper and are laminated. How...?

The explanation was detailed, but it didn't make any sense to me. Something about it getting stuck in some sort of crack and he couldn't get it back out.

"Oooh! You're going to get in trouble..."

I hardly thought so. But the rest of the class enjoyed the idea.

I noted it in the note (so the teacher knew why his restroom pass was missing). Then, due diligence and all, I notified the office as I checked out for the day.

The secretary got out the walkie-talkie to call the school's custodian... (Walkie-talkies are issued to staff that don't stay in one place very long: the principal, the counselor, the custodian, security, etc.) Partly to see if he could retrieve it. (He couldn't. He couldn't find it.) But mostly, to share the funny with those within walkie-talkie range.

Because...pretty funny.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

How to Distract a Sub (and SIL Update)

"Math is boring."

Okay, so I can't let that pass without comment.

Which somehow turned into a conversation about this video of two guys throwing a basketball off a dam...

(Don't ask. It was a rather meandering path our conversation took to here.)

After having gone this far afield from what he should have been doing--his math assignment--I figured it was time to end the conversation and remind him that he had work to do.

He took a look at the clock. He had managed to get me off topic for a good fifteen minutes. He considered that a win.

(Some students attempt to engage in conversation in an attempt to avoid doing work. Usually, they don't find a topic that'll keep me talking. This boy managed to do so. And didn't hide that that was his goal when the conversation finished.)

Ah well.

Now that it was clear I was on to his tricks, he turned his attention to the instructional aide (IA). He asked about her weekend. (It was a Monday.)

The IA had spent her Saturday shopping for a turquoise mid-century sofa. And a chair to go with it. The boy started searching out possibilities online for the matching chair. (The IA ordered the sofa but couldn't find a chair she liked.)

By the time the IA got wise, there were 10 minutes left in class.

Ah well. You win some. Some the students win.

* * *

There's a new update about my sister-in-law's condition. 

Previously I shared my sister-in-law's GoFundMe with you all. From that post:
Heather, my sister-in-law, was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis in April 2012. She has an aggressive form of MS, and she needs help for her best treatment option... (Go here for the full post.
Three months ago there was another update. And just this week, things have gotten grim indeed...
 ***August 22nd update***
Here is the latest. Heather is currently on the road, driving with a nurse to Northwestern University near Chicago. Why is she doing this, you ask? Well, here is why. Her bone marrow is failing. Quickly.  
The clinical trial she was in at the Mayo Clinic was unsuccessful. Her trip to Panama was a major success in reversing damage but was not able to fix her bone marrow. Extensive blood and bone marrow tests came back positive for two things-- myleofibrosis and acute myeloid leukemia. The thing is, those two conditions can’t exist at the same time. The doctor who examined her blood and sent the results said that he has never seen results like this… ever. He classified the results “inconclusive.” (Go here for the full update.) 
If any of you have any Marriott rewards points, they could really use your help. Thank you.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Random Prediction

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 ;)

You know how you say things to friends? You're just talking about nothing in particular, and sometimes the weirdest thoughts come out of your mouth. Well, for the sake of argument, let's say that you're talking nonsense (maybe you're a little drunk), and someone is recording your conversation. And this conversation gets posted somewhere...

What if one of the things you said was some sort of off the wall prediction? And what if that prediction suddenly came true? (Let's assume this all goes viral...)

Monday, August 22, 2016


At this rate, I might have to revive #idiotsummer...

It's been a bit of a week. I was on track to finish a couple projects by the weekend only to fail due to mistakes I made.

I finally managed to put my purse together. I did some crab stitch around the outside to neaten up the edges, only to find that it gave the purse a bit of a ruffle, and not in a good way. Then I attempted to glue down a button, but it wouldn't stick.

I ripped out the edging and redid it. At the moment, the purse looks like:

It's almost there. We'll see if I can get it finished. Finally.

But what made me feel like a complete idiot was another jellyfish...

Sure, it looks fine now. But...

This is the fifth one I've made. I should have this pattern down. I stayed up late to get the eyes and smile positioned correctly. Took over an hour. Finally got it looking good. Then went to stuff the thing while attaching the bottom only to discover I had worked the bottom incorrectly.

The very last round I worked in single crochet instead of double crochet. Which is clearly stated on the pattern. But I completely missed.

At that point it was 12:30 AM, so I went to bed. Because I couldn't face it.

The fix turned out to be fairly straightforward (and I was able to complete it in about a half hour). Doesn't mean I still don't feel a bit stupid.

So, yeah. I think I might need something simple to work on for a while. Although, I still might manage to screw it up.

Friday, August 19, 2016

The Animated Adventures of Firefly Teaser

So, this has been floating around the internet for about a week. And because it's been that sort of week, I just felt like I should share. If you haven't seen it already, that is. (It's only 39 seconds.)

I miss Firefly. Apparently I'm not the only one, as this was fan created.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

This Never Works

For this week's #ThrowbackThursday repost, I thought I'd go back and find post #1000. On Monday I hit post #1900. Knowing how I miss these milestones, I figured post #1000 wouldn't be anything special. I was right. And for the record, this was originally posted on October 18, 2012

Either the 8th graders have changed or I have. I'm not sure which.

It was an 8th grade English class. The assignment was to read a short story out of their workbooks.

I like the way that the textbooks do this. It isn't just a story with questions at the end. There are questions that go along the margin of each page, and the students are required to circle things, underline things, and generally interpret the story as they read it. It seems more interactive.

The assignment was of the do-it-on-your-own variety. I explained the assignment to them. I went over how they were to look at the questions as they did the reading. And then I gave this instruction:

"I know I've never been able to talk and read at the same time, so I expect that you will all be working quietly on this assignment."

And they did!

This never works. Yet, this time it did.

Like I said, either they've changed or somehow I've managed to figure out how to get them to work silently. Or they're really scared of their teacher. I think I'll go with option 3.

I just lucked out with them, I think. I use that particular instruction a lot. It works sometimes. Sometimes it doesn't.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016


I was covering the math class at the continuation high school. (I know many people are already back in school. We are not. But, the continuation high school starts a month earlier than the rest of the district, so they are in school now.)

The majority of the math work is done on computer. The students can work at their own pace. It's a great system. 

This one boy reminded me a lot of Snoop Dogg. So, when he raised his hand, I was expecting a whole different sort of encounter. But, he was having technical difficulties. 

The program would not let him submit his test. It was done. But the button that would file the test and grade it wouldn't work. 

Uh oh. My usual "fix" is to have the students reboot the computer. But rebooting the computer would erase the test. 

We were out of my wheelhouse. Before I could panic too much, I got called over by other students. Everyone, apparently, was having internet issues. Well, that's a problem I can do something with. There's a tech guy on campus. 

Unfortunately, he couldn't do anything to help. It turned out that the website (the ones that all the students needed to do the day's work) was down. (The tech guy had gotten a call from other classes that use the same program.) 

There was a backup assignment in place, fortunately. But did anyone do it? Mostly, no. My Snoop Dogg clone? He totally would have done the backup assignment, but he had done it already. 

On the bright side, the website was back up and running for the next class.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

A Difficult Choice

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 don't know the difference between a psychopath and a sociopath. But both are popular in fiction. I was just watching a TV show... Well, I'm behind on some shows that finished up their seasons in May, so you probably know the episode I'm talking about. Anyway, that's where this week's question comes from...

What if you found out your child was a psychopath? And was causing harm to others (like another of your children)? What would you do?

Monday, August 15, 2016

The Purse Is Coming Together

According to my posts counter, this is post #1900. (I'd wait and say something when it hits #2000, but knowing me, I won't even notice until that occasion has passed and I'm on post #2003 or something.)

I had hoped to have a finished purse to show off today. Alas, these finishing bits are taking me longer than anticipated even when they're going fairly smoothly.

Last week, I was here...

I started to add little triangles to the top flap, but that ended up being way more annoying than expected for less than stellar results. So, I frogged that and decided I liked the look of the smaller square flap just fine. 

I decided to line this with bright orange fabric...

...just because. (I like to attach the fabric to the body of the knitting. It makes the finishing a bit more complicated, but I like the finished product better.)

And then it was time to start on the sides. I only had to rip out and recalculate the first side once. It wasn't quite what I had envisioned, but it was going to work. Then I went to work on the second side. Which should have been cake, right? But no, I had to rip it out once as well before I got it to almost, kind of work...

While I was doing that, I also started on the strap. Which I don't have a picture of. But (mostly so I can find it next time), here's the strap I'm making. (It's the technique I used on my last two purses, and I'll probably continue to use it until something better comes along.)

Progress is being made. Hopefully, I'll have finished pics for next week. Just so long as the rest of it comes together...

Friday, August 12, 2016

Strange Luck

Over ten years ago, there was a great series on the History Channel called History's Mysteries. Sadly, now that I go looking for it, I find that is unavailable. Deep sigh.

Well, anyway, one of the episodes had to do with Titanic and her sister ships, Olympic and Britannic. And the one woman who was on all three...

The luckiest woman who ever sailed on the ocean? Or the unluckiest?

(I saw this short video the other day and I just had to share.)

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Too Cold

"Could you turn on the heat?"

Yes, it's August. This is not some sort of repost from the winter. And those were the first words out of a student's mouth when he entered the room.

(The continuation high school has started their school year. They start a month before the rest of the district.)

The weather had cooled a bit from the prior week. Only to be replaced with humidity. But still, summer temps. Sweat dripped down my back as I got ready to go for the day.

Somehow, the air conditioner got left on in the classroom. (I think the timer function is misprogrammed.) So, when I got there, it was 63 degrees Fahrenheit (according to the display). Ah, bliss.

I turned off the a/c and opened the door. I was quite comfortable. The students, not so much.

But I'm not turning on the heat in August. No. Not doing it. Especially not when it was much more comfortable inside than it was outside.

Still, the whines...

A couple hours later, the temperature had climbed to 68 degrees. A decent room temperature. I was in heaven. Them...

"We're going to freeze to death."

Um, no. Not even close to a possibility.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Spies from the Past

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 ;)

The other day I was watching an episode of NOVA called "D-Day's Sunken Secrets". And because time travel is always on my mind (well, not always, but frequently), I got to thinking...

What if spies could time travel to the future to find out how the enemy won their war?

Monday, August 8, 2016

Purse Progress, Part 2

There's a point in the project when it goes from "just started" to "almost finished". I suppose most people have more of a middle ground, but not me, and not with this project. Last week, I had "just started".

On my birthday, I made quite a lot of progress. (Note: I wrote last week's blog post before my birthday, but it posted after.)

And suddenly, I was "almost finished". By Friday, I had completed the main body piece.

Before the Olympics opening ceremony I sewed those two together. During the opening ceremony I wound in the ends.

And now I have something new to contemplate. I kind of like how this looks...

But I kind of want more of a slant on the purse's flap. Something to play with.

I'd like to say it'll be done by this time next week. It's possible. But I have been known to spend weeks on the finishing up of a project.

Friday, August 5, 2016

Mass Exodus

It was the last day of summer school. The entirety of the lesson plan was a "final" (the final three chapter tests), and then they got to watch a video.

The class was four hours. The final took maybe an hour. With a half hour of preliminary stuff, some study time, and correcting the finals after (they swapped papers, and I called out the answers), they had a little over two hours remaining.

They wanted to know if they had to come back after the break.

I can totally see their point. They were done. But, legally, they were in that class, and I was responsible for them for the time until the class dismissed.

I'm not sure how the conversation got around to it, but they found the loophole. No, they couldn't just leave (I would inform the office that they'd cut). I couldn't dismiss them (we were all there until the end of class). But if a parent checked them out...

After we got back from the break, I did a head count. They all returned. Then the phone rang. Could I send a student to the office as she was leaving?

Two minutes later, another call.

By the fifth call, the secretary was very apologetic. She didn't need to be. I knew exactly what happened. They'd called their parents, and someone came to check them out.

Well, they were done...

And it was better for me, as several of my worst cases went home early. Like "Eddie Haskell". It made the rest of the day go so much more calmly.

The rest of them got dismissed at the normal time. 11:45 AM.

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Silence is Golden

It was summer school. The kiddos were generally on task. They turned in everything they were assigned. They did everything they were assigned. And the major behavior problem I had was them getting too loud, especially when they were between assignments.

So, I wasn't too concerned with their cell phones.

I don't have an issue with them listening to music while they work. Just so long as I don't have to hear it. That's what earbuds are for.

But "Eddie Haskell" didn't have earbuds...

At various times I'd hear sound coming from his cell phone. He'd be playing some basketball game, watching some video, or listening to music. None of which I should have been able to hear.

I told him this. He didn't see my point. He wasn't bothering anybody.

Um, yes, he was bothering me.

So, he attempted to find something that wouldn't bother me. He and his friends discussed different types of music. They floated the idea of country music...

(Why do kiddos assume I'd like country music? I mean no offense if that's what you like, but I've never been a fan. And that they assume that's what I like offends me no end.)

...Then they thought about classical. They'd go with a Beethoven symphony.

For me, that wasn't the point. (The song he had on before was something I kind of liked.) The point was, I'd asked not to hear their music.

So, periodically, I'd hear piano or some other symphonic melody. And I'd go and tell him to turn that music off.

Deep, deep sigh.

(I did "offer" to hold on to his cell phone so he wouldn't be "tempted" to use it. That helped curb things a little. But cell phone rules are rather fluid at the moment. And as it was summer school and it appeared that Mr. C had allowed their use before, I was in a rather odd spot in terms of them. The regular school year is easier. I would have confiscated the phone and turned it into the office after the second offense.)

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Logistics, Part 2

The prior week, I had covered a health class for summer school. Originally I had been contacted to cover the Monday. Then Tuesday through Friday was added. And then the last four days of summer school, the following week from Monday through Thursday, was added as well.

Needless to say, this was not a planned thing, and I wish Mr. C all the best.

They were covering the full semester health class in about five weeks, four hours per day. Which meant that they flew through chapters. And chapter tests.

But going through the chapters this quickly meant that the students didn't have study time to prepare for tests. To make up for this, the teacher allowed open book tests, but just for the first few minutes of the test.

Which, of course, the students didn't think was long enough.

This day they were taking three chapter tests together. Multiple choice and true/false. They'd get fifteen minutes of open book time.

They complained that he gave them ten minutes per test of open book time before. So, they should get longer, they protested.

One girl said that they should take each test individually.

I could see what she said, but I couldn't do this due to the logistics of passing out and collecting tests. Did they take one test, wait for everyone to finish, and then pass out the next test? Or, was I supposed to give the next test when someone finished the first? Which then would mean that each student was on a different five minutes of open book time.

How was I supposed to coordinate all of this?

The girl complained of my use of the term "logistics".

"Do you mean 'logically'?" she asked.

Um, no, "logistics" is the term I meant.

But clearly I was misspeaking because "logistics" isn't a word, and it makes no sense anyway. Couldn't I just give them more open book time? Or pass out each test separately?

This is why I've stopped trying to explain things to teenagers. Sometimes it's like arguing with a brick wall. Although, a brick wall has more give.

I passed out all the tests at the same time, but I did give them five minute warnings. I could, at least, do that for them.

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Complex Aroma Key

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 Killjoys, you'll probably have some idea where this question comes from...

What if we could unlock things (doors, safes, computers...) using our natural aromas? 

Monday, August 1, 2016

Purse Progress

The last time I blogged about my current projects, I talked of starting a new purse...

Shortly after this picture was taken, I frogged this.

It's a fairly straightforward story about needle sizes, stitch pattern characteristics, and fabric density. But as it will only be interesting to fellow knitters, I won't go into it. I went up a couple needle sizes, started over, and realized that yet again something was wrong.

So, I again started over.

Now it looks like...

The problem? I had cast on too few stitches, so the purse was going to be too narrow. But instead of frogging attempt number two, I bound it off...

I think I'll use that as the flap. I just need to figure out triangular pieces to add to the sides, and then it'll all get sewn together. I have a couple ideas...

It's hard to see at the moment. Especially as I'm making it up as I go along.

Maybe I should just go back to making Pokeball lip balm holders...