Tuesday, July 31, 2018

What Day Is This?

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 "they" decided to revamp the calendar? (By "they", I mean people who could do such a thing, tell us they did such a thing, and make it so we had to adopt it.)

I may not be around much today. It's my birthday, so I might be busy. 😄

Monday, July 30, 2018

For Pretty: A Water Bottle Cover Pattern

Back in January, I previewed the water bottle cover I'd made.

What I didn't mention was that I had submitted the pattern to a publication in hopes they would publish. Alas, they passed. But, they gave me an interesting note. They said that the pattern would have been better if it had been more of a formula so that anyone could cover any size bottle.

Well, that's something I can work with.

I sat with the idea for a while. How could I come up with such a formula? I knew what I had done to figure out how to make my knitting fit my water bottle. How could I put that in pattern form?

This is why I'm only putting this pattern out now, in July, when it was initially completed before January.

The solution I came up with was to create a worksheet-style addition. And by self-publishing a PDF, I could make the pattern as long as needed. (Publications have space considerations.)

The pattern is now in three parts. Part one contains the basics of construction. Part two has the instructions on how to complete the math to figure out how many stitches are needed. And part three is a fill-in-the-blank worksheet where the math can be done. Oh, and then there's the stitch pattern and such.

Whichever parts someone needs can be printed out, and the unneeded sections can be ignored.

I think it's a rather elegant solution. But time will tell if I'm alone in that opinion.

I created a Pinterest-type photo to make pinning the link easier...

Here are the links on where the pattern can be purchased:

Friday, July 27, 2018

Finishing It Up

U.S. history, second semester. It was the last block (two hours) of the day. I had a class of fourteen. They had bookwork, and they spent the time in near silence.

Mostly they appeared to be working. Well, except for two boys who had their heads down on their desks.

It seemed to be one of those days that don't make the blog. Until...

End of the day. They packed up and left. I had taken the turned in work and stacked it neatly in one pile and left it on a desk at the front.

I was finishing packing up my stuff when I noticed I still had one straggler. He was one of the boys who had been asleep. For a moment, it looked like he was going to slide his paper into the stack, so I went about my business. (I don't consider the work late if they turn it in as they leave. If he had handed it to me right then, I would have put it in exactly the same spot.)

But, instead of sliding his paper in, he pulled another paper out. And then he was busily writing something...

Um, no.

I shooed him away. He had only managed to copy one answer, leaving two full answers on his paper. (He had done one on his own earlier.) He sought about for a good lie, but he couldn't come up with one.

Student logic. He had slept for much of the two hours, and he figured he could make up in the work in what? Five minutes after class? Seriously?

Of course, this didn't take into account the other three assignments for that day. (He was copying the worksheet, but they were also assigned four questions from the book and an outline of the chapter.)

Perhaps I should have let him copy. The page he had pulled? It belonged to the other student who had been sleeping.

Thursday, July 26, 2018

A Fortuitous Mistake

As I stood in front of the classroom door waiting for security to arrive to let me in (they don't give keys to subs during summer school), the teacher arrived. He was going to be out the next day.

Upon conferring with the summer school principal, he figured out that he had written the wrong day on the request. ("I'm bad with numbers. That's why I teach history.")

Several thoughts went through my head. What was I going to do with my day now? I got up and dressed this early for nothing? But before I could contemplate driving home, the summer school principal had turned her and my attention to a different teacher.

"She can cover your class."

After a bit of confusion, what was happening became clear. The other teacher, Ms. M, had just been discussing with the summer school principal getting a sub so she could leave that day. Her husband was in the hospital. And while she was just hoping to leave early, since I was already there, she could leave immediately.

Perfect timing. And a mistake that turned out to put me right where a sub was needed.

This is not the first time this sort of thing has happened. (Luckily I was on hand on a day when a teacher learned her brother had just died in an automobile accident.) I just didn't expect it to happen in summer school.

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Their Usual Work Ethic

Two hour class. Four students.

It was special ed. science. Their assignment was what you'd expect in a summer school class--lots of writing, answering questions from the textbook.

I caught a boy on his phone.

"I'm taking a break..."

Um, yeah, that's the sort of behavior that got you stuck in summer school in the first place.

Half an hour left, another boy started to pack up. Nope. He could do something still.

"I'm done."

I informed him he could start on the next chapter.

I know two hours can be long, but that's the only class they had, and they weren't using the time well.

Well, naturally. I suspect that's what necessitated them having to take summer school in the first place.

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Don't Look Behind the Curtain

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 this is all a big, fat distraction?

No, I'm not going to specify from what. Or which. I had no idea what to ask today. This is the best I could do. I'm going to let your imaginations run wild.

Monday, July 23, 2018

Blame It On the Heat

The jellyfish are coming along...

I don't have a complete jellyfish at the moment. But these pieces will go into the four that are in process.

I could be totally done with them except: (1) It's been warm, so I haven't been doing as much yarny stuff as I would do when it's cold, (2) I've been working many days (which is such a shock as I don't usually get so many summer school days, but I'm so very, very grateful for the work), and (3) It turns out that the heat is making me stupid.

How is the heat making me stupid? The other night I thought it'd be fun to do some different color combinations of the flip-flop keychains. I needed a bit of a break from the jellyfish. And while one came out really nice...

...I managed to make stupid mistakes on the other two. This one in orange and purple...

...is for me, so I'm making myself live with the mistake. Can you see it?

As for the other...

...I was going to put it up for sale, but I can't sell this. Can you see the mistake? How about here?

Yeah, so I'm going to have to remake this. Ah well.

I did manage to list a couple more lip balm cozy colors. (If you click on the pictures, it'll take you to the listings on Etsy.)

 Keyfob Lip Balm Cozy in Yellow

 Keyfob Lip Balm Cozy in Orange

As I was doing some research, I saw lip balm cozies with mermaid tails on them. What do you think? Should I attempt such a thing?

Friday, July 20, 2018

Cutting her Losses

I was taking roll by seating chart.

"Where's Sarah?"

A girl raised her hand. She was sitting three seats behind and three seats over from where she should have been. But, was the seating chart accurate or had she been recently moved? I decided I wasn't in the mood to fight the battle.

I updated the seating chart and continued checking for missing students.

"Where's Angel?"

No one replied.

I knew Brian was absent; I remember him. By my head count, everyone else should have been there.

"Okay, so Brian and Angel are absent..."

No one corrected me. This is usually where someone chimes in with "I'm over here" so they don't get marked absent. Especially during summer school where they only get three before being dropped from the class.

Sarah had moved to sit beside a boy. I removed the phone they had been giggling over. The giggling continued. As the boy was in his assigned seat, it was the girl who needed to move.

I directed her to a seat at the front of the room (near where her assigned seat was). She agreed with no fuss. She packed up her stuff. Then she walked out of the room.

Um, I wasn't kicking her out. Just adjusting her seat.

Okay. Fine. It's summer school. She's absent. I noted this and wrote a note to the teacher about Sarah.

The rest of the class went smoothly. As I collected work from them at the end of the period, I glanced to make sure their names were on their papers.

That was when I saw "Sarah" at the top of a paper.

And suddenly I understood. "Sarah" was Angel. (Sarah was in her proper seat. But because Angel wasn't in hers, the whole row was in question, hence why I called Sarah's name even though she was where she was supposed to be.)

I guess Angel wasn't thinking through the whole lying-about-her-name thing. And she hadn't conferred with Sarah about swapping names. (It must have been the boy. Apparently she couldn't resist getting a chance to flirt with him.)

So, when I asked her to move, Angel must have figured she had nothing to lose by just leaving. She was already marked absent.

Although, why Sarah didn't speak up...

Once I discovered my mistake, it was easy enough to fix Sarah so she was marked present and change my note to reflect the correct name. And all it needed was one more tweak where I mentioned that Angel had lied about her name.


Thursday, July 19, 2018

Worst Case Scenario

English 10, first semester. They had a "character worksheet" to do for half an hour. For the remaining hour and a half, they had a story to read and questions to answer.

Only, it turned out, the story assignment was going to be thwarted by technology.

The schools are getting more and more high tech. The English department has an online textbook called StudySync. They can read stories (or have the stories read to them), watch videos (that go along with the stories), and answer questions (with fun drag and drop capabilities) online. It's a nifty system. I've seen it in use many times.

But on this day it was gone.

Cue panicking sub.

I only discovered the problem when a student called me over. He had logged in to the system, but his student screen was blank. I tried my usual troubleshooting tricks (restart the system), but to no avail.

Time to call for help...

In the end, I got the summer school principal involved. She pulled in the librarian and another English teacher who also uses the system. And from there they pulled in district resources.

It turned out that they had "flushed" the system for summer. And they'd need to repopulate the database. But these were not things that they could do for the sub for the day.

Deep sigh.

But I had two more blocks of students. And there was no way I was giving them an hour and a half of "free time".

I made up something for them to do. I had them pair up and create a dialog. That's where my writer brain went. I don't think they appreciated my writer brain.

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

A Quick and Dirty Scare

Sometimes I'm lazy. I'll do a quick head count of the students in a class. I'll note that that number matches the number of students on my roster. That means they're all present. Right? Roll done.

I call it my "quick and dirty" roll call.

However, there are a couple of circumstances that could muck this up. If I had a "visitor", I would still be missing a student. And for summer school, there's one other small issue...

It was the last block of the day. (The day is comprised of three two-hour blocks.) English 10, second semester. 17 bodies in the room. 17 names on the roll. We were good to go.

About an hour in, we were to read a story. The teacher had left index cards with student names, so I didn't have to find volunteers. (Getting volunteers to read... It's torture. I love index cards.)

I was about half way through the stack of cards when I called "Fiona".

"She's not here."

Oh crap! That meant that someone in the class had been dropped and didn't realize it. (They're dropped from class on their third absence.) And as we were in the middle of something, I wasn't about to stop and call roll.

Luckily, there were only 17 students, and the story was way longer than 17 paragraphs.

I finished the cards. "Did anybody not get a chance to read?"

A girl raised her hand...

We finished up the story. I went back to the roll. I looked for Fiona. She wasn't listed.

Wait. So my roll was okay after all?

I asked the girl who had raised her hand about why she didn't have a card.

Except she did.

At the beginning of class they were to respond to a quote. As I had called on her (via the cards) for that, I had put her card into the "read" pile. (She already participated in class.)

Whew. My "quick and dirty" was accurate. This time. But with a bit of a scare.

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Fine Tuning

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've been a bit klutzy lately. Losing my balance and swaying (not falling). Running into doorways. Nothing out of the ordinary, just a bit more so. But what if it isn't me...

What if the world makes little shifts in matter around us? Nothing we'd notice, necessarily. Just occasional adjustments that only effect those in motion at that moment.

Monday, July 16, 2018

Updating Listings

Last week I decided to update a bunch of photos for my shop. (In an effort to get more views, I'm following some advice I saw online and listing different colors of items separately. It'll take a while to get it all done.)

I pulled out a few things...

...and by the time I was finished, I had 279 photos.

Doing the listings takes a bit of time as well. So far, I've listed the orange and pink flip flop keychain...

 Flip Flop Keychain Sandal Zipper Charm in Orange and Pink

...a neon yellow lip balm holder...

 Keyfob Lip Balm Cozy in Neon Yellow

...and a gray lip balm holder.

 Lip Balm Holder in Gray

(If you click on the pictures, it'll take you to those listings on Etsy.)

What I'm working on this week is more jellyfish. Yeah, there'll be pictures when there's something to show.

Friday, July 13, 2018


The week of the 4th of July was a holiday week for the summer school. This incident happened two weeks ago...

Ninth grade English. They were writing a 300-word story.

As there was no seating chart, I took roll the "reverse" way. That is, I walked around the room, asked each student their name, and then marked them present on the class roster.

The office had given me updated rosters when I arrived.

Summer school has a strict attendance policy. They can be absent twice. On the third absence, they are dropped from the class.

I got to the end of the room. The boy gave me his name. It was not on the roster...

"Does that mean I can leave?"

Me: "Have you been absent three times?"

He had.

Oh, he was so excited. It was like he had won the raffle. "I'm done." He was packed up and out the door so fast.

Of course, he had enrolled in the class because he needed English 9 credits, which he'll have to make up at some point. So, not really a victory.

But that was one less student in the class.

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Bad Neighbors

There's this family that lives in my complex. They arrived in the spring. And they are the very worst neighbors.

They are obnoxious. They roam the sidewalks as if they own the place. They make a mess. And if I want to pass by them, they give me ugly stares and hiss at me. Yup, the father likes to hiss.

Yes, I'm shaming them on the internet. Here's what they look like:

I've never meant them any harm. But if I come close...

They gather around, ready for a fight. See the kiddo just chillin' on the sidewalk. Just sitting there. My complex houses lots of people, and they like to walk their dogs. But these neighbors object to that sort of activity.

It's so bad, if we see them in our path, we turn around and go around the long way. It's easier than a confrontation. There's no telling how violent they might get.

Yet, somehow the ducks, turtles, and lizards seem to have figured out how to live amongst them. I wonder if they give them as wide a berth as we do.

I hope they leave soon. It'd be nice to take a stroll outside without worrying about running in to them.

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

The Day the Universe Changed

There's a treasure trove of programming on YouTube. Many shows I remember fondly have ended up there. On subbing-free Wednesdays, I'll present a random video that I loved back in the day. Some of these may not have aged all that well. If you have some time, come on and take a trip down memory lane with me.

The Day the Universe Changed. When I saw various episodes on PBS as a teen, I remembered how much I had enjoyed science back when I was a kid. It's one of the reasons I majored in physics in college.

It's a show about the history of science. It takes some "modern" concept (the show came out in 1985, so now their modern is 30 years out of date) and traces how it came to our understanding. Many times, it's almost a miracle that we know anything at all.

What I loved about this show was how funny it was. At least, I found it funny in how various ironies played out. James Burke had a way of describing things (in that very British way) to highlight how very human the scientific process can be.

Once upon a time I wanted to get all of these episodes on video, then DVD. Now, some are on YouTube.

(Turns out that I can buy this now. Isn't the internet grand?)

This episode is titled "Infinitely Reasonable", and it's one of the reasons that my blog title resonated with me. (I can't say it's why I started calling my blog Laws of Gravity, but it was definitely a contributing factor.) It's 45 minutes, but it passes fast if you enjoy this sort of thing.

Tuesday, July 10, 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. 😉

What if you were only able to eat food you hate? 

(I'm not going to specify a why, but some possibilities are allergies, a diet, or perhaps a post-apocalyptic scenario where food is scarce.)

Monday, July 9, 2018

My Week in Projects

Last week was a holiday week in the district. Yeah, the whole week. Did I get any knitting done? Nothing spectacular. In my defense, there was this holiday. And it got kinda hot at the end of the week. And then there was that day I had to stand in line at the DMV... (Yeah, I know, make an appointment. Someone waited a bit too long to make that appointment.)

When it's summer, I do more crocheting. Crocheting is cooler. When I knit in the heat, my palms sweat. So, I made another flip-flop...

In pink and orange... Because pink and orange...

In case you hadn't realized, the sole is in the trim color...

And then there was a little key-per keychain that was for a custom order. (This was knit, for the record.)

Colors chosen by the customer...

And I finally took some pictures of... a pom pom. I broke down and bought a pom pom maker a few weeks ago. And I went a little crazy with it.

It turns out that making pom poms is kinda fun. I followed a pattern with the intent of making it look like a watermelon...

It needs a bit more of a trim. And someone who's had a bit more practice. (After this, I practiced doing a little color blocking. Pictures of that I'll post another time.)

I'm also in the process of collecting pom pom patterns. I have them collected on a Pinterest board.

Oh, and one last jellyfish...

Not the last jellyfish I'll ever make, mind. (I have to remake the jellyfish for my nephews. Theirs... got lost in the mail.) Just the last jellyfish picture for today.

Happy Monday.

Friday, July 6, 2018

The Chromecart Key

Some days I really should stay in bed.

When I checked in for the day, I was given the lesson plans and class rosters. I was told I was in room 115, which was next door to the office. Then they called for someone to come unlock the door. (They don't have extra keys for summer school, so we subs are out of luck.)

I got in the room and started looking for the Chromecart key.

Over the last two years, Chromecarts have become ubiquitous. It's a small cart that houses 36 Chromebook computers. The Chromebooks have little slots where they live, and they can be plugged in in there. The carts have a lock on the outside, so we can keep students from borrowing a Chromebook when it's not a computer day.

I am very familiar with the Chromecarts. I have frequently locked and unlocked them.

So, when the lesson plan said "find the Chromecart key and unlock the Chromecart", I knew what to look for and I knew what to do.

Only, there was no Chromecart key. Anywhere. I looked where the lesson plan said it was, but there was nothing there.

Then I happened to look up at the door...

Room 116. I was in the wrong classroom.

I ran back to the office, asked for them to call for someone to open the correct door this time, and I headed back out to wait.

By the time the door was unlocked, I had students waiting with me. (The guy who had the key was busy doing his job, so it took him some time to get back to me. To unlock another door for me. Since I wasn't paying attention to which room I should have been in in the first place.)

We all got in the room. And the Chromecart key was exactly where the lesson plan said it should be. I went to unlock the cart...

I put the key in the lock. I turned the key. I went to press the catch to release the door... Nothing. It was still locked.

I repeated this procedure several times. There was nothing for it. The door wouldn't unlock.

So, I called the office, and I got the summer school principal. I told him of my issue, and he said he'd send someone in a few minutes.

At this point, the kiddos were getting restless. So, I attempted to explain what was going on. I offered to let the kiddos try.

And wouldn't you know it, one of the kiddos managed to get the thing open... just as an administrator arrived.

Yup, so I looked like a complete idiot in front of a class of 30, school security, and two administrators. And the day hadn't even started yet.

Thursday, July 5, 2018

The Bribe

It was one of those special ed classes--you know, the ones where the middle school age kiddos can't read. Their summer program is a three-hour day where they do a little reading, a little math, and they paint paper towel rolls to make rainsticks out of them.

There's always that one student who we have to keep an eye on. For this group, her name was Sophie.

Sophie did what she wanted to do when she wanted to do it. One of the instructional aides, Ms. R, called her "princess". (Well, she was "princess" behind her back. To her face, Ms. R called her "mija".)

Sophie liked to hit. She would also run. (She only ran once this day.) But for the most part, we got through the day with few issues.

Until clean up time.

Everyone else in class had packed up. They sat in their seats, waiting patiently to be dismissed.

Sophie decided she wanted to explore the teacher's desk. She had to touch everything, including the expensive electronic tools like the document camera and the copier. And it was less of a touch and more of a pounding...

Nothing any of us did could get her to leave the teacher's desk and go back to hers.

So, Ms. R decided to try another tactic.

"Everyone who's sitting at their desks gets chips."

Ms. R grabbed a bag of chips and gave everyone else a handful. The other kiddos got down to munching. Sophie appeared not to care, but she left the teacher's desk and went to sit at hers. For a bit.

Victory. For a moment.

(Sophie wouldn't leave the room at dismissal time. The only reason she's not still there is because one of the instructional assistants went to the parking lot and had her mother come in and take her out.)

Tuesday, July 3, 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. 😉

You've heard of dark matter, haven't you? How about parallel universes? So, today let's combine both of these concepts...

What if the unseen matter of the universe belongs to these parallel universes? What if the reason the matter is "dark" is because it is out of phase with our reality?

Monday, July 2, 2018

The Flip-Flop Keychains Are Available

I made some more flip-flop keychains. (Here's the link to my last post about them, including the video for the pattern.)

Here are the colors I've finished so far. (The listing is now live if anyone wants to purchase one. Here's the link.)

With a three more for a custom order...

I've been taking lots of pictures. Three different photo sessions so far. This guy was supervising the last one...

I'm probably going to do some other color combinations. At the moment I have the yarn in black, white, blue, red, yellow, green, orange, sea green, and pink. (Although, it's not really yarn yarn. It's considered crochet cotton, the kind one would make those delicate doilies with.)

Yeah, I went a little crazy. This is the same crochet thread (yarn) that I made the Halloween mask out of. And it'll be perfect to make some cute earrings...

I'm going to stop now. I might get carried away.

I'm open to color combinations. What should I try next? (And there is a purple available. I've been able to hold out buying it for the moment. But I'd be open to getting it...)