Tuesday, January 30, 2018

A Nemesis Sun

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. 😉

From this episode of NASA's Unexplained Files (it's the segment that begins at about minute 11 and is about 7 minutes long)...

What if we had a second sun that we couldn't see?

(How can't we see it? If it were an infrared star, one that emits energy that's beyond the visible light spectrum, our eyes wouldn't be able to perceive it.)

Monday, January 29, 2018

Simple Knit Hats

I've been doing some Christmas knitting. Nope, I'm not getting ahead. Oh no. This is knitting for last Christmas.

Better late than never, right?

Hat 1:

The lighting on this is horrible, so here's a better shot I took outside...

And hat 2:

I made it a little longer as the recipient likes to roll up the edge...

I'll get better pictures later. Taking pictures outside was out of the question today (too windy), and I didn't have the stamina to play with getting better lighting inside. Another time...

And on that note, I may be a bit behind on my blog visiting this week. Not to worry, just a minor cold, but I'm going to be taking it easy so I can get over this as quickly as possible.

Friday, January 26, 2018

A Yellow

Boy 1: "Why does your shirt say 'pink' when it's gray?"

Boy 2: "I see those shirts all the time, and they're never pink."

The girl, not sure what the big deal was, gave some sort of explanation. I figured I needed to jump in.

Me: "'Pink' is the brand name."

Boy 1: "Well, that's a stupid brand name." He flailed about, trying to come up with a good analogy. "It's like your name being..." He failed to come up with anything that made sense.

Me: "Brand names are brand names. A color is a perfectly valid name for something."

Boy 1: "No. It's like her name being... It's like this," and he indicated his orange, "was called 'a yellow'."

I pointed out that was a terrible analogy as the color was named after the fruit.

Boy 1: "Well, it's still stupid."

I don't disagree. (I have a bad habit of taking the opposite view when someone starts saying something that is not necessarily wrong is wrong. Even when I agree.) For a long time I couldn't figure out the "Pink" shirts. But as the shirts are innocuous, I stopped dedicating much thought to them.

I shrugged and walked away. Later, the boy called me over.

"Can I eat my yellow?" He indicated his orange.

Since eating in class is discouraged, I said no.

The boy continued to refer to his orange as his "yellow". Even the next day.

If that's the hill he wants to die on...

Thursday, January 25, 2018

How Not to Wear a Ribbon

I saw the small bag with the ribbons in them when I arrived in class. The Post-It said I was to pass them out to first period and why. But, being a middle school class, I figured passing the ribbons out at the end of the period would be for the best, so I set it aside.

But then, midway through the period, one of the assistant principals came over the PA to say something about the ribbons. Now the kiddos were clued in to their existence, so against my better judgment, I passed the ribbons out.

These were the standard small lapel pin ribbons that celebrities wear on the red carpet. These ribbons were orange, and they had provided a small pin to attach them to clothing. (Alas, not a safety pin...)

If you know middle schoolers, you know what came next.

They couldn't figure out how to attach the ribbons. I tried to demonstrate, but they were mostly not listening. One girl just had me attach the thing to her shirt.

The boy next to her, however, decided to pin the pin through his finger.

The girl was grossed out. She asked him to take the thing off his finger. Knowing it was bothering her, the boy, of course, now made a bigger deal out of the pin sticking in his finger than he had before.

I'm squeamish. I objected to this display as well. When the boy wouldn't relent, I informed the boy he had now lost the ribbon. He handed it over with minimum fuss.

The rest of the class managed to attach the ribbons to their clothing. One boy put it on his pants. Another put it on his backpack. The other boy who attached it to his finger put the ribbon on something else.

At the end of the period, the boy wanted the ribbon back. They were having an assembly that day, and all the students were encouraged to have them on. I explained that if he attached it again to his flesh, he would lose it completely.

He attached it to the hood of his sweatshirt. Well, I said it had to be on his clothing. So, good enough. He argued that attaching it to his hair would work as well, but I vetoed that idea. And then they left.

Why were ribbons being distributed to the students? They were in honor of the student who passed away over winter break. Cancer. They were honoring her with a moment of silence at the assembly.

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Voices Carry

Math support. It's an extra math class for students who need extra help in math. Because they need extra help in math, these classes tend to be filled with students who hate math. And act out. And are freshmen...

Yeah, it was a bad, bad period.

I emailed the teacher and his co-teacher that evening...

(The teacher has a co-teacher for all but this period. But these students are also in with the co-teacher in another period, so she knows them. I figured she wanted feedback, too, so I included her in the email.)

It was a two-day assignment.

The worst offenders were Lawrence and Jose.

I ran into the co-teacher the next day. She informed me that she had made her displeasure known (she had "ripped them a new one"), and three students, including Larry and Jose, were going to spend the period with her (in the learning center).

Fine by me.

When they arrived to class, I wondered. The co-teacher called me to tell me to send the miscreants to her. So, I told them they had to go. They put up a protest, for a moment. Then they happily agreed.

I walked away, but I heard Jose say to Larry, "We'll take our time getting over there. We'll get there with two minutes left in the period..."

A moment later they were gone.

The room was loud, but I still easily heard Jose. And now I knew what my next step needed to be. I called the co-teacher and told her (1) the students had just left class, and (2) what Jose had said.

"Well, then, I should come out to meet them," the co-teacher said.

Surprisingly, the class settled after that. They still weren't on task, but they weren't nearly as crazy as they had been the day prior. Which just goes to show how getting rid of a couple bad players helps control a classroom.

But then, suddenly the students in class were at the door, opening it, looking out...

I got over there and told the students to sit down. I poked my head out to see what the commotion was about. Two security personnel (with their golf carts) and the co-teacher were having a discussion with the kiddos who should have already been at the other room.

It looked to me like the kiddos left the room and were planning on hanging out around the "porch" of the classroom. Because they were seated on the ledge. And I got a definite "hanging out" vibe.

I closed the door and turned back to the kiddos in the room. They had work to do.

No one ventured near the door again. One of the security guys came in and wandered the classroom. (The co-teacher had told me earlier that she had asked them to check on us during class time due to the craziness of the prior day.) He left. And things went back to the mild chaos that I expected of them.

I have no idea what happened to Larry and Jose. I'm sure it was a reasonable consequence for their actions.

I swear, teenagers don't get that their voices carry. They talk amongst themselves as if the adults can't hear them. Silly boys.

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Annoyed, Part 2

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. 😉

Last week's question actually generated this week's question. As I was waiting yet again for another comment to post, I had a more nefarious idea why everything's been so slow...

What if computer glitches/slow downs are happening because we're being spied on? As we all know, our data is being mined by various entities. So, what if they're doing it very badly, and our slow internet is because of how they're gathering our information? 

Okay, so maybe I'm being a little paranoid. But just because I'm paranoid doesn't mean they're not out to get me. 😉

Monday, January 22, 2018

Dayflower Water Bottle Cover

I knit a new lacy cover for my water bottle.

At the moment, I'm sort of between projects. I mean, I know what I'm working on next. I have the yarn. I just haven't started the new stuff yet. So, no decent pictures.

But I have this pretty that I completed New Year's Day.

I'll probably make the pattern available at some point. Is anyone interested in making their own?

Also, I'll sell these to anyone who wants their own but isn't a knitter. Just let me know.

This is my third water bottle cover project. Here are the previous two...

As I only have two water bottles, the black one has now gone to a new home.

Hopefully I'll have pictures of new stuff next week.

Friday, January 19, 2018


Period three. I was back at the continuation high school. A student bounded into class. High energy. And he told everyone why...

"I did so much Ecstasy, I haven't slept in three days...

"I am so high...

"I'm, like, addicted, but it's so expensive that I can't get addicted..."

To which another student replied, "I was there last week..."

My reaction:

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Missing Supplies and Stuck

Middle school "home arts". Apparently, that's what we used to call "home economics".

The end of the semester is fast approaching. The kiddos were given a huge study guide to prepare. Unless they still had to finish their sewing project.

Alas, no sewing machines. They were sewing by hand. But these were small projects. They were making stuffed plush toys.

They had had a choice. I saw a cute star with a sleeping cap, fuzzy dice, a crescent-shaped moon with star, and a football (among other cute projects).

One boy found his football, but for some reason he couldn't find his needle, thread, or other accessories. Although, the football looked pretty complete to me. He said it wasn't. (It's possible that he still needed to sew up the spot where he had stuffed the thing, but I didn't see that gap.)

He got out some scissors and started "trimming" the fur. Which, considering that the teacher hadn't graded the thing yet, probably wasn't making the best use of his time. I said as much.

He whined that he couldn't find his stuff. I suggested that maybe he should work on his study guide and ask his teacher where his missing stuff was when she returned. But he's a middle school boy. He wasn't going to listen to reason.

Nope. He spent the period playing with footballs. (His plush one and the real one he had come into class with.)

And yet, the rest of the class managed to retrieve all their stuff and work. Or they were working on the study guide.

Well, there's always that one...

Wednesday, January 17, 2018


Back from winter break, I was called to cover "culinary arts". (Not the picture above. Someone *ahem* forgot to take a pic of the classroom...)

Period three was "culinary arts 2", or those who were taking a second year of cooking. Surprisingly, Kevin was enrolled.

There were seven students enrolled in the class. Six were present. And basically this is the class where they do competitions and things. (There are all sorts of programs through the county for various technical and vocational programs.)

It was a make work assignment, but they were on task. Even Kevin.

He figured out what he thought an answer was, and then he asked the class if he was right. And on that went for a while. Until he needed a restroom break.

A bit later, another student asked to use the restroom. That's when I noticed that Kevin had been gone a while. I mentioned that Kevin was out...

"Oh, he's not coming back."

Apparently, the other students are familiar with Kevin's lack-of work ethic.

Although, Kevin did return. After a while. At which point he gave up doing the assignment. Sigh.

(Which is not surprising considering what I saw the last time I had Kevin in class. If you go back and reread that post, Ms. S in #3 is this class.)

Tuesday, January 16, 2018


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. 😉

Is it just me, or has everyone noticed a slow down of comments posting to Blogger? I thought it was just me, and then I was on a different computer at a different location where the same thing happened. Now I'm wondering...

What if computer glitches are happening as a way to check security? That is, what if the annoying slow downs are to check that the person posting is really human (and not some bot that wouldn't noticing spam not posting)? 

Monday, January 15, 2018

The Russian Poncho, Final

I finished it.

If you had told me last week that this week's post would have the finished Russian Poncho, I would have laughed. Hard. I wasn't that close to finishing.

Apparently I was...

The front.

The back. It kind of reminds me of a butterfly.

Apologies for the awful pictures. Finding a spot with a plain background and good enough lighting proved to be impossible.

So, yeah. Tuesday, I rewatched the video because I was curious as to how she assembled the piece. And later that night I figured, "I have four squares, I might as well assemble the body". Somehow that gave me enough momentum to get that final square finished. And suddenly Friday night I was attaching the hood. All that I needed to finish Saturday was an edging along the bottom.

Now on to the next project...

In case you're keeping track, here's a bit of a timeline:

Friday, January 12, 2018


I dislike Christmas music. Eleven years of working for the evil toy store took much of my Christmas spirit. (And Christmas music... Burned out. So burned out.)

But when on the Wednesday before winter break during the other calculus class (the non AP one mentioned yesterday) a student started playing Christmas music via his phone, I let it pass. It wasn't too loud, and half the class was in the middle of a discussion about some anime show.

Some days are like that. It was a battle I wasn't in the mood to fight.

The girl in front of Scott wasn't so sanguine about it all, though. She told him that it was too loud. That perhaps he shouldn't by playing the music at all.

They were all the way across the room from me, in the opposite corner. And I heard all this. The room wasn't terribly loud even though everyone was talking. A fairly mellow day.

Scott replied that no one was complaining. He said it was days before Christmas and everyone wanted a bit of Christmas cheer.

The girl wasn't so sure. So, she started asking various classmates if the music was bothering them. After her fifth or sixth no, I figured it was time for me to jump in.

"Is the music bothering you?" I asked the girl.

Because I was totally ready to have that battle if she wanted the music off.

"No, it's fine," she said.

I rather doubt this. If she was actually fine with it, she wouldn't have started the conversation.

But that ended her questioning the rest of the class. And we were stuck listening to the Christmas music for the rest of the period. Well, I was stuck. I think the other students kind of tuned it all out.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Gunning for Number 1

AP Calculus. It was the week before winter break. They had an assignment, but it was due upon their return from winter break, so they weren't doing it. Well, mostly not doing it. (A couple of them had books out.)

(I had the usual conversation with them. They were going to be busy being off, and they wouldn't even think about their homework until Saturday the 6th at the earliest. And it would be Sunday the 7th at 8 PM when they finally opened their backpacks and wondered about what homework they needed to do. They'd be up all night finishing work that they could have gotten done before the break.

This story is from a kid in a different calculus class a couple years prior. But I think it's likely what most of them do, so I pointed out that perhaps they should get some work done in class. Hey, at least I warned them.)

What did they do instead? Well, on Monday they debated who was ranked #1 in the junior class.

One of the girls in class was ranked #2. And she wanted to know who had the only GPA that was better than hers.

The class only had 13 students. (One was absent.) So, they all got into this discussion. Even the seniors. They posited ideas and shot them down. They knew it was no one in the class with them. (Apparently, they all knew each other's ranks.)

They thought it might be this one boy, but they had no way of checking. And apparently he wasn't telling.

The girl was trying to figure out how this boy could have beaten her. And how she could get a #1 ranking.

There are things to take into account. Certain classes are weighted, but one can't take a fully weighted schedule. (Things like P.E. and art classes aren't weighted but they are required.)

I'm not sure how, but this conversation took the whole period. And they resolved nothing. (Well, they did figure out #1 wasn't the boy they thought it might be.)

If you've ever wondered what it's like to be a fly on the wall around teenagers, kind of like this.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018


For the last week before winter break, I covered a math class. (Ms. C teaches four different classes--well six, but four, kinda. Long story.) Before lunch was the statistics class.

The assignments for the week were also "winter break homework". And also, for the most part they were online (so, technically they were due Sunday night). So, while I encouraged them to get something done ("No homework over the break!"), I wasn't terribly concerned with getting everyone on task.

(Some classes can't have this kind of leeway. The kiddos will tear the room up. But these students... These were the advanced math classes. They wouldn't get here unless they generally do their work. And many of those not on task were actually doing work for other classes. So, yeah, they get laissez faire me.)

It wasn't until the bell that I noticed the sleeping student. (I really should have noticed him earlier, though.)

"Bell rang. Lunch time. Time to go."

He didn't budge. So, I gently shook his shoulder. When that didn't wake him, I slammed a door (the door to the computer cart). I tried his shoulder again...

I mean, it's lunch time. He has to want to go to lunch...

(I want to go to lunch. And hit the restroom, which I can't do until after the room is empty of students.)

I kept at it, and eventually he woke. Groggy. It took him a bit to get to coherent. The empty room probably startled him, too.

All he wanted to do was go back to sleep. And now I felt bad. I thought he'd want to know class was over, but he didn't much care.

But I kinda needed the restroom. And I only had that half hour to myself. If I let him sleep...

Sometimes I gotta be selfish. At least, that's what I tried to tell myself.

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

A Different PSA

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 may have heard that marijuana is now legal in the state of California. It's something I was peripherally aware of, but I didn't think much of it. And then, on January 2nd, I heard my first "don't drive high" commercial.

My reaction involved a bit of eye rolling.

(I was going to link to the commercial, but I can't find it online. It's pretty typical for the genre.)

But that got me to thinking...

What if a previously illegal activity was decriminalized in your state (like prostitution, marijuana, or similar)? What sort of new commericals might you see?

Note: I'm drawing the line at violent crimes like robbery and murder. While that might make for an interesting "what if" for a later date, I intend for this question to steer clear of those thorny issues.

Monday, January 8, 2018

The Finisher

I've gone through weeks of accomplishing not very much. And then this past week suddenly all my projects kind of came together.

It's weird when that happens.

On Tuesday night, I finished four different things. Four. In one night.

Well, mostly they only had a bit to go.

So, here is a partial viewing of some things I finished last week. Because I kind of want to show them off.

First, I finished off the Pokemon Pokeball beanie I had a really awful picture of last week...

My little hat stand works great to photograph hats. (Picture me going all "duh" when I figured this out. I mean, it was made to display hats. Why wouldn't it be a good thing to take pictures of hats on?)

And I finished another block of the Russian Poncho...

Which leaves me with only two more blocks to go. And then the assembly. That might take a while...

I even made more unicorn gift card holders. (Plural because I made two. I figured I might as well. I even managed to list it in my shop.)

At this rate I'll have nothing to work on...

Nah. That's not going to happen. I can always come up with something else to work on 😉

Friday, January 5, 2018

Math Jokes Punchlines

The week before the winter break I covered a math class. (I'll blog about that experience next week.) Their assignments for the week are due this coming Sunday.

More of them were on task than I normally get, but a bunch of them weren't. Naturally. To all of those who said they'd just do it over the break, my thoughts are with them this coming weekend. Because, as I said to them, they'd be looking at that homework on the 7th and cursing themselves for not doing it sooner.

I know they haven't started that homework yet. I'm sure of this.

Anyway, as I have math on the brain, here's a fun math quiz.

Pick the Punchlines to These Math Jokes

No math required. Well, not much. I got 18/18 with 1:34 minutes left. I bet you can beat my score.

Thursday, January 4, 2018

The Bickersons

We're still on winter break. School starts back on Monday. I've been holding my posts from the week before the break until when school starts up again. So, for today it's time for another #ThrowbackThursday. This post is from January 20, 2012

Today I covered 8th grade science. The teacher has been out all week (his son's been sick). Today ended up being a finish-yesterday's-assignment day (I guess yesterday's sub made a mess of things...).

I explained what needed to get done to each class. Then I sat back and waited for where my presence was needed. In 3rd period, I didn't have to go far.

A boy and a girl sat at the table right next to the teacher's table. Everything started innocuously enough. The girl hid the boy's reading book. When the boy didn't notice its absence, the girl pointed out that he was missing something.

8th grade science is physical science. The class was doing work related to the periodic table. The boy and girl were on task. The girl had some questions.

I showed the girl where she could find what state each element was in (at room temperature) on the periodic table. She then checked for each element on the assignment. The boy made fun of her for double checking.

Chlorine? The boy knew that was liquid. He was wrong: gas. The girl then went after the boy for being wrong. Actually, she went after him for being wrong about everything. (For the record, he wasn't. He was wrong about half the time. She was wrong the other half.)

There was bickering over why she needed a new saxophone. The boy was shocked that the girl wasn't sure that copper was a metal (she was double checking, she said). And on it went.

I asked them if they bickered like that every day. I wouldn't think a teacher would put two people next to each other who irritated each other so much.

(I considered telling them to date and get it over with, but that only leads to vehement denials. I know this. From experience.)

It was kind of entertaining to watch. Does that make me a bad person?

Sadly, I have no idea if these two ended up dating. They would have graduated in 2016. (And I don't recall who they were even if this was recent enough for me to be able to find them again.) Ah well. 

Wednesday, January 3, 2018


Have you heard about Genius? It was on NatGeo (National Geographic), so I wouldn't be surprised if it passed you by.

Last season focused on Albert Einstein. If Einstein brings to mind a wild-haired old man, you don't know half the story. Two wives, estranged sons (one who had some mental health issues), and immigration issues. (He lived in Germany before World War II. And was Jewish. Getting out was kind of a priority.)

And this was only in ten episodes.

I can't tell if it can be streamed from the website. Probably if you get NatGeo already. It looks like you can get it via YouTube, iTunes, and Amazon. I have no idea if it's on Netflix. (If someone knows, please leave a comment.)

Of course, the trailer...

Sometime this year there's supposed to be a season two. The topic will be Pablo Picasso. Keep an eye out for it.

Did you see Genius last year? Had you heard of it?

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

On Front Street

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. 😉

As I was driving home the other night ('round about 8 PM) as I was stopped at a red light, I happened to look over at a bank. It was closed, but since it was dark outside, it was easy to see inside. A big screen TV was on. Some ad was playing. And I wondered why they left the TV on when they left for the day.

I wondered what channel they left the TV on. (I couldn't tell from the brief time I was stopped.) And then other thoughts occurred...

(Yes, this is a totally silly what if for this week. Sometimes I have a twisted sense of humor.)

What if somehow someone put porn on that TV that could be seen by any passerby on that busy street?

Monday, January 1, 2018

New Year, Old Knits

So, I've *ahem* started my Christmas knitting. No, I'm not getting ahead. I'm way behind...

And I need opinions. For those of you familiar with Pokemon, how close does this beanie look to a Pokeball?

I'm not sure if I like how the "button" came out. (It's duplicate stitch, so I can totally rip this out and redo if necessary.)

And I'm still working on my sister-in-law's birthday gift (which is now three months late). Remember?

The other day I was on Pinterest, and I stumbled across a video of someone crocheting this. Hooray! I get to see if I'm doing it right. And then...

And then I noticed that it was in French.


Ah well. I can still watch it. All 30 minutes of it.

One of these days.

Here's the video (more so I can locate it later when I'm ready to watch it):

Now I've got *mumblemumble* more beanies to knit. Anyone see any cute beanie patterns? I'm in the market, so to speak.