Thursday, July 20, 2017

Barber Shop


Some things should go without saying. But with some students...

"Put the electric clippers away."

These students? Instead of complying, they had to double down. The boy turned the clippers on...

"Would you like me to cut your hair?"

He took no for an answer the third time. He handed the clippers back to their owner. Who then turned them on...

"Turn that off. Put it away. If you can't leave it put away I'll have to confiscate it."

Still, I watched them. These are the types of students that would then take the clippers back out because they found some sort of loophole in what I had said. Or, they'd create a loophole.

Did they really plan to shave their heads in class? Unlikely, but considering what else they got up to, I wouldn't've put it past them. (Curious about what else they got up to? Tune in tomorrow...)

For the record: yes, I could have confiscated the clippers the minute I saw them. I did not primarily because I didn't want to deal with the drama that would have inevitably followed. But if they had kept up with it, it then would have been worth it to get it out of their hands. 

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Frequency


Based on the 2000 movie, the series Frequency was about a woman communicating with her father from 20 years ago via a CB radio. I'm not sure if this is considered fantasy or sci fi.

Frequency is one of my "go to" movies. I'm a fan. If I catch it on TV, I'm pretty much watching it to the end. So, when I heard they were doing a TV version, I was in.

Sadly, I was mostly alone. Frequency was cancelled, but as with No Tomorrow, an epilogue was released in May tying up loose ends. So, while it's only a season, it is a complete season.

The premise: 20 years ago, Frank Sullivan was killed in the line of duty. (In the movie he was a firefighter. The TV show made him a cop.) Raimy Sullivan is one day messing with his old CB radio when she ends up talking to her dad. (In the movie the Raimy character was male.) From 20 years ago. Just before her father's death.

Spoiler: Frank survives. Raimy gives him enough information so that he can avoid his death. But, now Raimy's mother (who had been alive before) is gone, murdered by a serial killer. Can Raimy and Frank (working together via the CB radio, because Frank is still dead in the present) save her? And what else has changed in Raimy's world now that Frank avoided his fate?

Frequency aired on The CW, and it now appears to be streaming in the usual places like Amazon and YouTube as well as Netflix. It was 13 episodes. And that last episode (with the new epilogue) means that there are no cliffhangers or loose ends.

Have you heard of the TV version of Frequency? Have you seen the movie?

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Encoded in Our DNA


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 stole today's question. When it popped up on Twitter, I just knew it was the question for this week.

First, the background. From the New York Times article from July 12: "Who Needs Hard Drives? Scientists Store Film Clip in DNA":
[One of the very first motion pictures ever made] is now the first movie ever to be encoded in the DNA of a living cell, where it can be retrieved at will and multiplied indefinitely as the host divides and grows. 
Since I'm stealing the question, I'll let the tweet speak for itself:
(If you have access to Twitter, check out the whole thread. There are some interesting ideas there.)

Monday, July 17, 2017

Compare

Last week (although it feels like eons ago) I posted some pyramid pillow pictures. I asked for opinions. A couple of you thought I should retake the photos and use a plain background.

I've seen that advice before. And normally I'd agree. However, with this I hesitate. There's something about this pillow that I think needs a little something more. A plain background doesn't really give a good sense of scale.

But, this is just my opinion. I could be wrong.

So, first the pillow with a plain white background.


Then, with a bit of scenery.


(These photos aren't as good as I would like. I'm working on a new computer. The photo editing software I'm used to is no longer available, so I'm in the process of figuring out what to replace it with. Please bear with me while I adjust to the new. And, if you have photo editing software that you like, I'm open to suggestions.)

Which do you prefer?

Friday, July 14, 2017

False Witness


It was the end of the period, and the kiddos were on their way out. One boy, who was in a group on one side of the room, called out to a boy on the other side.

Boy 1: "Am I in football?"

Boy 2: "Yeah."

Boy 1: "I'm in football?"

Boy 2: "Yes. I mean no. No, you're not. I thought you wanted me to lie for you..."

Now we all know who to call if we suddenly need an alibi witness...

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Rules of the Game


Yup, another day in summer school...

11th grade English. Some of them were doing more talking than working. For the third time, I went over to insert myself into the conversation. I asked, "How's the work going?"

The group was centered around Terrence...

Yes, I do mean Terrence from the continuation high school. And no, I was not at the continuation high school.

The continuation high school is closed until August. But they allow their students to go back to their "home" schools to attend summer school where they can earn up to 15 credits. I was at the continuation high school when they were signing up for summer school, so I was not surprised to run into some of them. Although, I would have thought Terrence wouldn't attend.

You should have seen the look on Terrence's face when he walked into class and saw me. Oh, and he was late...

Anyway, I was hovering, hoping that Terrence would do some work. He brought up the "Flipping Starbursts" incident.

"Didn't you call that 'Rolling Starbursts'?" I asked.

Terrence regaled the class with tales of how mad Mr. J was the next day...

"You told me he didn't care," I reminded him. He said Mr. J wouldn't care at the time, and when I saw him next, he said he hadn't gotten into trouble over the incident.

Then the group (all non-continuation high school students) wanted to know all about this game. And considering I was curious, too, I listened in.

They each started with two or three Starbursts. The player would toss one. If it landed opening side (where the paper folds over, so where you go to get at the candy) down, he'd win another Starburst. If it landed opening side up, he lost his Starburst. Terrence said by the end they'd all ended up with 10 or more Starbursts.

(There were only four in the game, so they must have replenished when someone lost.)

Terrence did turn in work, although it looked sloppily done. Ah well. At least I wasn't the enemy this time.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Humans


This British import takes place in a near future where human-looking robots/androids (synths) have become ubiquitous. These synths do the kinds of jobs you'd expect (dangerous mining) and some of you might not (child and elder care). But they're just programmed machines.

Or are they?

The TV show Humans finished its season two just this spring (winter?), and while looking up links for this post I learned that a season three is planned.

(At this point I'd tell you where you can stream this, but I'm having computer/internet issues at the moment. Let's just say that getting around online has been quite a challenge for the last week or so. So, I broke down and bought a new computer. It was way past time. It should arrive by the weekend. If anyone knows where to stream Humans, please feel free to mention it in the comments.)

Our main characters are a band of renegade synths that seem to have a conscious will, but they were being hunted. And, there's a family of humans. Of course the two groups intersect, which leads to some interesting conflicts.

Anita/Mia is bought by the family after she's been captured and reprogrammed. Niska is also captured, but she isn't so lucky. She's sent to work as a prostitute. (This show has some adult scenes, so keep the kiddos away.)

What happens to the two of them, the family that owns Anita/Mia, and the other synths in the renegade group is the overarching story for season one. Season two picks up a bit after season one left off. And it adds a couple new dimensions to the story.

If you like sci fi, especially sci fi that could be our world, you'll probably enjoy this show. I would recommend getting to the beginning, though, for there's a lot of story to keep up with, and it'll be hard to jump in the middle. It aired on AMC in the U.S., but I did not see access to it on my cable's OnDemand. (Normally I'd include a link to AMC, but unfortunately, internet... It's the same channel that airs The Walking Dead.)

Have you heard of Humans? Have you seen any episodes?

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Intelligent Machines


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 ;)

Let's assume that we're living in an age where android technology has progressed to such a point that we have human-looking machines to help us with our everyday lives. Or we're telling a story set in a future where robots are a part of the society.

These machines have been built by humans. They've been programmed by humans. They do the mundane jobs we don't want to do and/or they do the dangerous jobs that we can't do.

What if we could give these machines the ability to reason and think for themselves? Would you allow your android/robot to become self aware?

Monday, July 10, 2017

Photo Session

I struggle with photos. Getting the right view of my knits can be hard. I have a big issue with them getting enough light. So, I snap a bunch of pics. Then I load them on the computer, and meh.

The pictures I have for my pyramid pillow pattern (the one that props devices so one doesn't have to hold them) are in serious need of updating. Of course, I no longer had the model, so first I had to make another. And last week I finally got around to taking some pictures.

Today, I'm asking for your opinions. Which pictures do you like better? Or, should I start over and retake them all?

Side View 1

Side View 2

Front View 1

Front View 2

Back View 1

Back View 2

Top View 1

Top View 2

Help. Are these good enough? Should I start over? Do I need a more interesting background? A plainer background? (I'm working on getting them lit better.) Any constructive criticism would be greatly appreciated.

Friday, July 7, 2017

Finish the Band Names


Alex, I think this one's for you.

It's Thursday afternoon. This is way late for me to be writing my Friday blog post, but I've been having computer issues, and I was unable to find a good quiz for today. Until this one popped up on my Facebook feed.

Finish These Band Names


I had not heard of six of them. Googling helped. (Not that I'm advocating cheating... ;) ) 

A couple things to keep in mind. First, you can type the names in any order. It'll match the name to the band, so you can skip around without "previous" or "forward" buttons. Second, you do have to spell it correctly. One letter off, and it won't take it. Third, you don't need to hit "enter" or anything. As soon as you finish typing the word it takes it (you don't even need to hit the space bar). 

How many of these bands have you not heard of? Or are you a music expert and you are familiar with all of them? 

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Bad Choices


The lesson plan warned that the Earth science classes were "immature". That's putting it mildly...

The teacher had left enough work to fill up the two-hour summer school block easily. Most decided not to even attempt it. A couple said that it was "too much work". So, instead...
  • I explained to one boy that using his external phone speaker was not appropriate for class. He was broadcasting some video for him and his friend, and the whole class could hear.
  • One girl explained to her seat partner how to "see" their auras. Then she looked up what those colors meant. 
  • One girl danced over in the corner. When I explained that dancing in class was not appropriate, she questioned me as to why. 
  • Two boys sniped at each other, one calling the other "rat" and the other calling the first boy "whale". Among other insults. 
And that's not even including how attached to their phones these kiddos were. I'd swear some would have to have them surgically detached the way they seemed to be attached to their hands. 

I should not have been surprised. These students are a select subset of the population. In order, they 
  1. Failed (or got a D) in 8th grade science. (If they had gotten a C or better, they would have taken biology in 9th grade.) And,
  2. Failed 9th grade Earth science. I know this because they are now in summer school for it.
You'd think they'd wake up and realize there's a problem, but they aren't self-aware enough for that yet. 

Anyway, towards the end of the day I got to perusing the class rosters. And I burst out laughing. (I didn't bother to hide it. They weren't paying me any attention.)

I was looking at the students who had been dropped from the class. (If they are absent three times, they get dropped from summer school. Period.) And one name popped out at me immediately. 

Blaine. (I also wrote about him here and here.)

Figures. 

I'm not surprised that he failed Earth science. And I'm not surprised he stopped coming to summer school. 

I have a feeling I'll be seeing him at the continuation high school in the not too distant future.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Filler


Health. I'd covered for this teacher last year during the last two weeks of summer school, so I kind of knew what I was getting into.

For the last four hours, I had the same group. (They missed taking health during the school year. Many of them because they'd taken an AP class instead. Which means they were a pretty good group, especially for summer school.)

They were studying the chapter on nutrition. They had vocabulary, a chapter outline, a food collage, and chapter review questions.

Unfortunately, that was enough work for only 3 hours...

Luckily, the teacher had left his laptop. (Their vocab terms and journal topic needed to be projected.) I know how to kill 45ish minutes. YouTube!

Yeah, it's cheating. But they're freshmen (going to be sophomores in September), and you never want to give freshmen free time. It doesn't go well. Not even for these kiddos, the more academically inclined (and better behaved) of the class.

Ever search "nutrients" on YouTube? Turns out (once I ignored the videos on pot) that there are some decent on topic short videos that I could play.

They hated this, of course. They would have rather sat around and talked and watched videos on their phones. But considering how loud they were already getting, and from past experience, I knew I needed something...

They only seemed to enjoy one video. Mostly, they were making fun of it. But no matter.



I'll take laughter at the video over a wild party atmosphere (for 45ish minutes) any day. (This video was only about 5 minutes.)

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

In the Cult


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 your very good friend got sucked in by a cult, but that friend doesn't realize it?

Monday, July 3, 2017

Currently

I have a few projects on the needles/hook. Unfortunately, they aren't of the interesting variety.

In the finished file...


In case you don't recognize it, it holds my ereader...


And the only reason I made it is because I want to update my pattern photos. Because they suck, and have sucked for a long time. Now I just need to figure out a good background and hopefully get some good shots of it.

The next thing on the needles is just a swatch at the moment...


The pattern is called Mermaid Mesh. It's for something for my in person selling booth, and when I have that finished, I'll show you. Hopefully, it'll turn out as I envision it.

And finally...


This is just a simple crocheted lattice thing. Which was made to do the same job as the Mermaid Mesh thing. I've changed my mind, and this might no longer be needed. We'll see.

I suppose I should pull out Halloween patterns. (I want to make myself an orange mask.) Now would be a good time to start Christmas knitting. But I'm just not feeling it.

So when I start panicking about not having enough time to finish something, you all can point me back to this post. Because that will be all my own doing.