Tuesday, July 23, 2019

Religious Law

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 the U.S. became a theocracy?

Monday, July 22, 2019

A First Draft

I was not much in the mood to take pictures yesterday, so instead I played with making a collage.

The plan is to turn this into a pin for Pinterest. Or, at least, I'll turn the final collage into a pin. Consider this a first draft collage.

For the last year I've been getting pictures of all these lip balm cozies. How'd it take a year? I got distracted by things like Christmas and the deluge in my bedroom, as well as getting a new camera and a lightbox. The listings are done. (Finally!) But, looking back at the first pictures I "improved" shows that those need to be improved upon again. Sigh.

Friday, July 19, 2019

Commonly Misspoken Phrases

Wanna feel smug? This weeks random quiz should help you do just that...

Commonly Misspoken Phrases

In this one, you're selecting either column A or B. Just use those keys on your keyboard. And there's a way to skip questions. It's right around the answer box, so feel free to do these in the order you feel most comfortable.

I expect to hear perfect scores. We all got this, right?

Thursday, July 18, 2019

The Old in Coffee

It's time for a dive back into the way-back files. This post originally appeared December 8, 2009

12th grade AP English. They were working on some essay or other (I didn't have a lot of details, but they were AP kids and could be trusted to do their work without me having to prompt them). They were half working, half talking about random stuff.

One student started talking about coffee. He asked what people put in it. One of the girls mentioned cream and sugar. The boy said that no, that's what kids put in it. Adults put old in it.

That's not a typo. He said "old".

He continued with this reasoning. He said that coffee makes kids old. One girl complained that she drank coffee, but she wasn't old. The boy said that she might be 17, but the coffee made her older.

So, I asked what about older adults who did not drink coffee. He said that they just age normally, not extra aged because of the old in coffee.

It made only a smidgen of sense. Of course that was the point.

The stuff these kids come up with!

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Denied Access

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 the big pharma execs who are gouging drug prices (insulin prices!) could be tried for murder? Or, at least what if they could be held liable for all the lives damaged due to their reckless endangerment?

Monday, July 15, 2019

Called It

Do you finish things you start? I generally do. No matter how long it takes.

Over the last year and a month, I have been working, off and on, on an infinity scarf. It was a fingering weight yarn, and I was using size 2 needles. That means that I was using a very fine yarn, and each stitch was very small. So, the finished product was going to need a lot of stitches.

I cast on 324 stitches. I figured I'd work until the yarn ran out.

I've talked about the scarf as I've progressed. Here are the posts if you'd like to see it as it grew:
But then, almost two weeks ago, I took a look at the scarf. It was looking wide enough.

How wide should a scarf be? I decided I'd aim for 8 inches.

I measured my scarf. It was 7 inches across.

I was... gulp... almost done!

Keep in mind, I've been working on this puppy since June. 2018. (Ravelry is great for keeping track of these things.) I was beginning to think I'd never finish the thing.

8 inches is long enough. I was calling it. One more inch to do...

I pretty much dropped all my other projects and focused on this one. And on Friday, I finished.


Just to get an idea, I tried it on to show you how big it is (even though it's not for me)...

And I had a bit of yarn left over. I have no idea what I'm going to do with it. I'll worry about that later.

Now that that's finished, I can concentrate on the other scarf.

I started this one in November. So, totally doable by December, right?

Friday, July 12, 2019

Figure Out the Lyrics

Do you like The Beatles?

Today's quizzes are hard. Really hard. I've noticed that I tend to only post quizzes that I did well on. I think it's time to post some quizzes that I failed miserably at.

So, today, it's figure out the lyrics. No clues. You have 8 minutes to randomly add words in hopes of figuring out what Beatles song it is.

You can type in the words in any order. If it's correct, the word disappears right away. If it's not, it sits in the box. It'll fill in all the iterations of the word in the song at once (so you only have to type "and" once).

I totally cheated on this. I had a list of some Beatles songs up in a second tab. It didn't help. But, you might remember more songs than I do.


Figure out the lyrics (Beatles 2)

I managed to get 49 of the 131 words. You may not be surprised that words like "the" and "and" come up a lot. 

Then try: 

Figure out the lyrics (Beatles 6)

On this one, I managed to get one word that was all the clue I needed to know which song it was. (Like, if I were to stumble on "strawberry" or "Lucy" or "paperback".) And, I got 152 words of the 200. Because it turns out that less than 3 minutes is not enough time to recall the whole song. (Yes, it took a good 5 minutes to stumble on that one word that broke it all open.) 

Good luck. Without giving away the song in the comments (don't give anyone a hint!) let me know if you figured it out. Don't worry, I now remember which song was which.

Thursday, July 11, 2019

Didja Feel That?

You may have heard, we had some earthquakes around these parts last week.

Lucky for us, the epicenter was way-the-f-out there in the middle of nowhere. (Not great for the residents of Trona and Ridgecrest as they got the direct hit.) 150-ish miles makes a huge difference in intensity.

The foreshock (what they're now calling it) on July 4th hit while I was lazing in bed, playing Candy Crush on my phone. It was that same phone that I then went to Twitter on to find out what we all want to know right away: epicenter and Richter scale magnitude.

You make initial guesses. It was a gentle one, with everything swaying. It was almost like being on a boat. But just when it should have been over, it wasn't. Length is a good indication of how big it is as it could be far away.

I follow a couple earthquake bots on Twitter. They pop up with information right away.

I had never heard of Searles Valley, so I knew it was a distance. And the initial 6.6 (it was downgraded later) was big.

The news goes a little crazy with earthquake stories. We shrugged it off. We were far enough away that we had sympathy for the woman whose house was totalled (it totally went off the foundation), but we weren't in the mood to watch the local stations fill news time with all the minutiae that they find to fill time.

I read blogs and later watched a movie on Netflix.

Friday night's earthquake was bigger. I posted all about it on Twitter:
That's the second time I was in the shower during an earthquake. I blogged about it the first time. (Oh my, that was ten years ago.) This time I wasn't all soapy, but I was in a good spot. I held on as the world swayed around me.

The earthquake finished. I finished my shower. What? I wasn't going to interrupt my shower once the shaking was all over. There was no immediate damage.

7.1 is huge. But again, over 150 miles away.

We seriously lucked out.

Trona and Ridgecrest, not so much.

(My other earthquake stories are filed under the label: earthquake files. You can find them here.)

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

American Princess

It's Wednesday, and it's summer, so it's time for my "Under the Radar TV Show". This is a show that you probably have not heard about. If you're looking for something to watch, here's a show you might consider.

I don't watch Lifetime much. The last show they enticed me into watching was You. (Totally creepy. I don't know if I'd recommend it.) But when I read a short piece on American Princess, I figured, why not?

American Princess follows Amanda. It starts on her wedding day. She's gone full bridezilla. And then she catches her fiance... Well... I won't say what she catches him doing as I'm trying to be all PG here.

Upset, she wanders into a Renaissance faire.

And she stays.

The Renaissance faire she ends up at is filled with all sorts of quirky characters. It's totally something you've seen before. (Warning: links to TV Tropes. Beware of rabbit holes...) We've got a New York character ending up in the sticks. The faire is populated by eccentric townsfolk. There, she experiences a very light humbling.

Nothing here is new. How it's done is where the fun is. And that's the point. It is fun.

Because, don't we all need a little fun?

The show had its finale on Sunday. (Sorry. I probably should have recommended it sooner.) It looks like right now you can see it via Amazon. If they do what they did with You, it may end up on Netflix sometime soon. And it may still be available OnDemand from Lifetime.

Have you seen American Princess? (Did you see You?) What's a good show on Netflix that I should check out? (Seriously, I have no idea what to watch now that I've caught up on Longmire.)

Tuesday, July 9, 2019


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 criminals were required to fix what they "broke" as their punishment rather than being jailed? (This wouldn't work for all crimes, of course, so consider this as the default idea and mostly for the crimes this would work for.)

Monday, July 8, 2019

Half a Donut

The other day I was in Dollar Tree. While looking around, I saw a donut keychain. And I thought, I can do that...

Long time readers will remember when I crocheted a donut. That donut was way too big for my purposes, but if I halved the pattern...

So, I set about to do that. In the back of my mind, I wasn't really thinking keychain, though. I was thinking bag charm. But they're basically the same thing. Same size, anyway.

I located my pattern. Instead of chaining 15 sts, I figured I'd start with 8. Then I followed the pattern as is. Which made the thing way too wide around. (I should have realized that at the time. I'll blame it on summer brain.)

Starting over...

This time, I made the bottom half 4 rounds and the top half 6. And that made it come out just right...

Because this doesn't give you a good indication of size, I posed with it also.

It's tiny. Only a couple inches across.

Now it's just a matter of attaching the hardware. I figure a chain. I'm debating whether to add a keychain ring or just a claw clasp. I guess it would depend on how one wanted to use it. What do you think?

As I was working on this, I realized that I'm right on time for my summer project. It seems that I've been making keychains every summer.

Last summer:

And the summer before:

(Yes, these are in my shop here. I also take special requests for colors and such. If you're curious, just message me, and we can work something out.)

Now that that's out of the way, I suppose I should start thinking about Halloween...

Thursday, July 4, 2019

U.S. Citizenship Quiz

In honor of the 4th of July, I'm doing a random quiz on Thursday. I've been saving this one for just this occasion...

U.S. Citizenship Test Sample Questions

This is not the actual citizenship test that those hoping to become naturalized citizens take. It's a sampling of the questions. But for our purposes, it works. (Apparently only one in three Americans can pass it per this article.) 

(Apologies that this post is U.S. centric. For those of you who aren't in the U.S. (or who would rather have something cute and easy), here's a happy puppies quiz.)

Type in the answers in the box at the top. Don't worry about going in order. The correct answer will find its correct box. Incorrect answers sit there.

Let me know how you did. (I missed one. The last one. Feel free to gloat if you know it.)

Wednesday, July 3, 2019

In the Dark

It's Wednesday, and it's summer, so it's time for my "Under the Radar TV Show". This is a show that you probably have not heard about. If you're looking for something to watch, here's a show you might consider.

Endings are important.

There are myriad movies that I thought were okay as I was watching them, but then the ending hit, and I lost all respect for them. In fact, many of them I hate to this day based solely on those endings.

But, an ending can make something that was so-so totally worth the time.

That's what happened with In the Dark.

Murphy is blind. She also is cranky all the time. This is what almost turned me off the show initially. How many times have we seen a person with a disability act like a jerk in a story? It's practically a cliche.

In the Dark began when a bunch of other shows I watch were ending. I had an opening in my schedule. And it wasn't terrible.

So, anyway, Murphy is blind. And she's not happy about it. She has a best friend named Tyson, only he was just murdered. She thinks.

Murphy found Tyson in the alley where they always meet to hang out and talk. He felt dead to her. She went to the cops. When they returned to where she was, there was no body.

Murphy is bound and determined to find out who killed Tyson. And to find his body. She has some help from her other best friend/roommate. Drugs and drug dealers are involved. Murphy drinks too much, smokes too much, and is pretty awful to just about everybody. But she bulldozes those around her into helping her.

Season 1 was 13 episodes long. (I have no idea if there'll be a season 2.) And we did find out who killed Tyson and why. And...

I like to think of myself as intelligent, but I did not see that ending coming. Not at all. In fact, when the show revealed who did it, my jaw hit the floor.

And it was then that I knew I was going to blog about it.

You may see that ending coming. I don't claim to be an ending expert. But the show works. And if you have some time, you might want to check this one out.

It was on the CW. It is still available on the CW's app. And according to some random article I saw on Facebook (so take that for what it's worth), it's due to hit Netflix on Friday. As in the day after tomorrow. So, just in case you were wondering what you could watch this weekend...

Bonus: Murphy has a guide dog named Pretzel. (Just sayin'...)

Have you seen In the Dark? Does it sound interesting to you if you haven't seen it? (If you have seen it, did you see that ending coming?)

Tuesday, July 2, 2019

Winter Fireworks?

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. 😉

Thursday is the 4th of July. In the U.S., Independence Day. Fireworks. Barbecue. Summer celebrations...

What if our Independence Day was February 4th?

Monday, July 1, 2019

Contemplating Next Steps

Last week I showed off my latest knitting mistake. Since then, I ripped it out, fixed it, and then ripped the whole thing out and started over.

The piece was just a touch too narrow for my purposes.

I started over, making the piece about an inch wider than before. And on Saturday I bound it off...

Now the real work begins...

I mentioned that it's going to be a mini iPad case. It's hard to visualize it in this context. What I'm planning to do...

...is to fold it over so that the iPad fits in like this...

Before it's finished, it'll need some sort of edging (I'm leaning towards a reverse slip stitch in crochet, but we'll see). I'm planning to sew in a bit of elastic to hold the iPad in place. And I'm contemplating lining it with some sort of cardboard to hold it stiff.

It'll need a button and buttonhole to keep it closed. I was thinking of adding a handle or strap somewhere, too.

As I was planning this out, I knew I wouldn't be able to imagine how it was all going to work until I had the long strip of fabric to work with. Now that it's here, it's time to plan.

I'll welcome suggestions, but a warning: I have a pretty good image of what I'm going for. I'm just not sure how I'm going to get it. I may have to let this sit for a couple weeks.

I got a question or two last week about my lightbox...

I bought if off Amazon. It's this one.

Friday, June 28, 2019

6-Letter "FF" Words Quiz

I went into Sporcle, and I hit "Random Quiz", and I got...

Can you name the six-letter words with 'FF' in the middle?

I got 20 out of 22. Not bad. 

You can answer the questions in any order. Just type your word into the box, and the word finds the correct box. (If your word doesn't vanish from the input box, it's wrong. Delete and try again.) 

Let me know how you do.

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

A Quick Project

It was my fourth (and last) day in Mr. G's class. Being summer school, they had individual work (that they weren't doing, mostly), so I had a lot of time to sit and watch them.

I had read my Entertainment Weekly, written three (well, this one too, so four) blog posts, and beta read thirteen chapters of a fellow blogger's book. I had also taken roll, kept track of all the classes, and made sure the classes' assignments kept up with what they should have been able to finish.

I needed something else to do.

I had recently (April-ish) replaced my school bag. I decided my IKEA clock needed a cozy.

Let me back up a minute. I carry a small clock for days when the classroom has no working clock. My new school bag doesn't have a great spot to stash it. So, I figured I could knit it a clipped pouch to make it easier to access in the bag.

And since I needed something to do while watching kiddos not work...

I started the gauge swatch. I measured it and the clock. I figured out how many stitches to cast on. And then I started it and knit almost half of it. In the first two-hour block of the day.

In the second two-hour block, I finished it with almost an hour to spare. That includes binding off and winding in ends. (And, of course, that includes starting class, taking roll, giving them their assignment for the day, and keeping watch over them.)

There were some obvious mistakes in my knitting. I had made a brief mental plan of what I wanted to do, but things got changed in the knitting, as they always do. I lost a stitch somewhere (I'm pretty sure I know where). I put the "button hole" in an awkward spot (making it diagonal). It is a little bigger than I needed.

But, I figured I could write up the pattern. If I ever decide to redo this, I have ready access. I edited out my most obvious mistakes in the write up. It is knitable, and it does the job.

Small Clock Clipped Cozy Knitting Pattern

Yarn: Caron Simply Soft (in olive green)--no where near a full skein, so use scrap yarn for this

Needles: US size #7 (4.5mm) dpn, set of four 

Notions: Name badge clip, marker

20sts/4 inches over stockinette stitch 

CO 36 sts, join to work in the round (careful not to twist)
  • Round 1: (K1, p1), repeat 8 more times, (p1, k1) repeat 8 more times
  • Round 2: (P1, k1) repeat 8 more times, (k1, p1) repeat 8 more times
  • Round 3: (P1, k1) repeat 7 more times, bind off the next 4 sts, (k1, p1) repeat 7 more times
  • Round 4: (K1, p1) repeat 7 more times, cast on four stitches, (p1, k1), repeat 7 more times
Begin working in stockinette stitch (knit every round). Continue until piece measures as long as desired (to length of clock). 

Then, arrange sts evenly over two needles (18 sts per needle). Turn inside out. Bind off using the 3-needle bind off.

Wind in ends. Snap name badge clip through button hole made over rounds 3 & 4.

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

What's Your Name?

At the heart of much speculative fiction (and fiction in general) is a question. What if? On Tuesdays I like to throw one out there and see what you make of it. Do with it as you please. If a for-instance is not specified, feel free to interpret that instance as you wish. And if you find this becomes a novel-length answer, I'd appreciate a thank you in the acknowledgements. 😉

What if everyone wore name tags all the time?

Monday, June 24, 2019

My Knitting Whoops

The other day, I posted this on Instagram...

...and someone commented that they didn't see the mistake. On a venue such as Instagram, it might be difficult to see. But it's such a glaring error. I'm surprised it took me a couple rows to notice it.

Here's another shot of the knitting in progress (before I've ripped out the error)...

It's at the top.

See it? Just in case, I marked this photo up a bit. In blue I've highlighted the mistake. In black is the way it should look...

And it wasn't even a Friday night when I did this. Sigh. Ah well. It's an easy enough fix.

I finally got a picture of the lightbox in action...

I really like how easy the lightbox makes taking photos. I don't like how long it takes to set up and tear down. But, it doesn't really take that long, so I guess I'm just whining.

Progress is slow, but it is progress. I'll get it done eventually.

Friday, June 21, 2019

Movie Friday

"Friday! It's movie day!"

Last block of the day. Second semester eleventh grade English.

Mr. G had been out Thursday as well. The reason was mysterious--confusing texts to the summer school principal.

Sudden absence. No plans...

Movie day? I'm down with that, provided that they're not lying. (If we watched a movie every time a kiddo claimed the teacher had promised them a movie, all I would do all day every day is watch movies. Seriously. At least one student every day claims this.)

But, even if I had wanted to, I could not do a movie. I did not have a computer to hook up to the projector.

(Once upon a time, every classroom had a TV and VCR. Then a DVD player. A couple years ago, all of them were removed. Now every classroom has a projector installed with speakers in the ceiling. One can hook up a DVD player to the projector--I've done this a couple times--but most of the time teachers just hook up a computer and stream something.)

I do not carry a computer with me to work. The student computer cart was locked. There was an old desktop computer in the room that might have worked, but only if I could hook it up to the projector.

However, we had HDMI cables (which don't fit in older computers) and they wouldn't reach anyway...

Let's just suffice it to say I know how to hook up the equipment, but it would have been more trouble than it was worth, even if I had had what I needed.

But teens...

When I said I could not hook up a computer, one boy said, "I know how. I can do it."

I probably should have let him tinker with it until he figured out I wasn't lying, but I wasn't in the mood.

Another student offered his phone. Alas, I have yet to find a cable that'll allow this to work. (One can play music over the classroom speakers via a phone, but that cable was not in the room.)

In the end, I told them to tell Mr. G he owed them a make up movie day. And then I told them to get to work. (Which they didn't do. They decided it was watch-your-own-movie day and streamed something on their phones. Which wasn't any different than what they did on Thursday...)

I wasn't too disappointed at the technology fail, though. If I could get it all to work, what movie would I show them? Deciding that would open a whole new can of worms.

Thursday, June 20, 2019

I'll Allow It

Those of you who have been following my blog for a while know what comes after the last day of school... SUMMER SCHOOL!!! Woo-hoo!

Summer school started last Monday. My first call came on Thursday.

When I got there, the summer school principal, Mr. E, walked me to the room. From what he said to me and to another passing teacher, it was clear Something Happened on Wednesday, and I likely didn't have much in the way of lesson plans.

Perhaps I'll find out what happened later...

As expected, there were no lesson plans. But it turned out the class had gotten books and had had a homework assignment the previous day. Okay, cool. I'd assign the next selection in the book (which turned out to be an excerpt from Antigone). It was a first semester tenth grade English class.

As we were getting started, a girl informed me that Mr. G (their teacher) had said they could finish the homework in class.

I'm terrible at lie detection, but this was clearly a lie. It was in the way she hesitantly said it. Another girl had previously said Mr. G was going to check their homework. Add all that together, and it just feels like a lie.

But, considering how I didn't have actual plans, and it is summer school, I went with it.

Sure, they could finish up the questions for the excerpt from Candide and turn it in by the end of the period.

(My general policy towards homework is: if the teacher specifically asked me to collect it or stamp it, I do so. If the teacher made no mention of it in the lesson plan, it doesn't exist to me, even if a student lets slip that there was homework.)

Summer school classes are two hours long. This was one way to kill some time.

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Things I Learned

...in small claims court.

As I promised last Friday, here are a few things I learned going to small claims court two weeks ago. In no particular order...
  1. Being a small claims court judge must be much like being a teacher. He gave us instructions that some ignored. He explained things clearly, but some still could not answer him. I kind of felt sorry for him.
  2. If you find yourself having to take someone to court, document everything. And have all the documentation in a logical order.
  3. If serving court papers, make sure to submit proof of having done so at least five days before your court date. 
  4. Be on time, but expect a long wait.
  5. It is illegal to charge more than 10% interest on a loan. (Not our case. A case prior to ours.) 
  6. Cases were heard by quickest to resolve first. (Of course if we could have come to a compromise, we wouldn't have sued...) 
  7. When your case is done, leave. (Papers were mailed out after.) 
  8. And then don't return, wailing how the defendant "threatened" you out in the hall. (Another case prior to ours.) 
  9. The judge can only rule on the specific case brought before him. Leave other matters out of it. 
  10. Everyone's an idiot in court. Take a deep breath and try to keep up.

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Change the Future

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 time travel was possible and you could go back and change the timeline? But, once you finished, you could only return to the present time you left. What if it was impossible for you to access the new timeline you created?

Monday, June 17, 2019

Designing Woes

The walking purse again... 

I got out the lightbox and played a bit with the backdrop. Why did I wait so long to get a lightbox? It's sooooo much easier to get stuff lit well. 

I photographed the purse again, because I finally finished lining it... 

And now it's done. 

Because I was asked, the purse is 6 inches wide by 4 inches deep. It'll fit a larger smartphone. (That's what it was specifically designed to hold.) The strap is about 36 inches long. All of these measurements are approximate as the purse has a little give, and the strap does stretch a bit. 

(I have no idea what to price this at. $45 feels like too much, but $25 feels way too cheap. Let me know what you would be willing to pay for it. Don't worry, I won't expect you to buy it. 😧 Although, if you want me to make one for you, let me know. We can negotiate.) 

And now I'm on to designing something new... 

It's going to be a cover/case for a mini iPad. I'd explain what I plan to do, but it's rather involved, and I'm kind of making it up as I go. So, I'll let you all follow along as I work it. It'll be interesting to see if it turns out how I'm seeing it, if it goes in a different direction, or if I end up frogging and doing something completely different. 

The joy of designing... One never knows if it'll go according to plan. 

Friday, June 14, 2019

Deluge Resolution

Last week we had our day in court.

In case you missed it, in late January, on a Saturday morning at 1:15, I was awoken by water pouring through my ceiling and onto my bed. (I explained it pretty well in that blog post.) Drying out the ceiling and putting the room back together has taken a while. (I gave periodic updates here, here, and here.)

What we have been waiting on is figuring out who's going to pay for it. Landlady has been fighting with the upstairs neighbors since it happened.

The people upstairs rent the place from the woman who used to live upstairs, but had recently moved to an assisted living facility. The woman's daughter hired a management company to oversee the rental stuff.

When the water incident happened, landlady contacted the management company immediately after the plumber left. (The plumber determined that the upstairs neighbors had to have overflowed something as he couldn't replicate the issue. He checked for a burst pipe and then if any of the fixtures in the upstairs bathroom were leaking. They weren't.)

The management company said the renters claimed not to know anything, so they were not at fault. He had no idea where the water came from, but it was not their responsibility.

Landlady went to the owner's daughter. She put her in touch with their insurance company. Insurance company said renters didn't do anything, so they wouldn't cover the issue.

And it's gone around and around for months. Landlady decided to sue. (I mentioned serving the owner the papers a couple weeks back.)

Small claims court is interesting. I learned a lot. Hopefully, I'll never need to use any of this knowledge again. But I figured I might as well jot it down in one place.

First of all, it turns out that "where else could the f***ing water have come from?" is a valid legal argument.

The owner of the unit upstairs did not appear in court. Instead, the management company and insurance company showed up. They said that since we couldn't prove the water pouring in was due to their tenants (the plumber only proved that it wasn't a burst pipe or a leaky faucet), they couldn't be held liable.

The judge disagreed. Once he determined that their bathroom is directly above my bedroom, he explained that the preponderance of evidence suggested that the only reasonable explanation was that something had happened in their bathroom. Putting the renters at fault.

So, the hole in my ceiling will soon be no more. But of course it'll take time before the insurance company pays out. (At least we now have a judgment. That should help, I hope.) And I'll have to move everything out of my room (I moved everything back in when it became apparent that it would be a while. It's been three months since I moved all my stuff back in.) It looks like we're in the home stretch.

As this post got huge, I'll save the lessons I learned for a future post. Because there were some particular things that I did not know before this whole thing. You may find it interesting as well.

Thursday, June 13, 2019

This School Year's Totals

The school year is officially over, so that means it's time for my annual stats post. (It's an idea I "borrowed" from another blogger.)

There are 180 days in the school year. I worked 164 of them. This is an all time high, beating the 163 days I worked for the 2016-17 school year. This does not count last summer, which was my busiest summer (18 subbing days, although most of those weren't "full" days), nor much of the jury duty of Mr. G at the continuation high school before the schools officially opened (that would be 15 days).

This was quite surprising, really. At the end of the last school year, they laid off 55 teachers. When they lay off teachers, those teachers go to the top of the subbing list, which means us regular subs should expect to work less. But most of the laid off teachers got hired back at the beginning of the school year, and subs were in short supply. We worked a lot.

Of those 164 days, I covered an extra period for 71 of them, and 26 of those days I covered teachers who didn't have a prep period. That's 97 extra periods or 16.2 bonus days.

88 of those days were spent at a high school; 39 were spent at a middle school; and 37 of those days were spent at the continuation high school. There was also one day I spent with a fifth grade class.

I did cover the first day of school (although, it kinda doesn't count) but not the last.

And finally, it's time to break things down a bit more specifically (note: I count a "full day" when the teacher has at least 2 periods of that class. A "single period" means the teacher has a different class the whole day, or I covered it on the prep period. I need a system as some days are kind of all over the place):
  • Social studies: 40 days with 10 extra periods
    • I'm shocked. Go back to previous years, and English is always the big winner. 
    • In first place is U.S. history with 19 days and 2 extra periods. In second place is world history with 18 days and 4 extra periods. I did cover a week of both of these classes, so I'm not surprised.
    • In third place is middle school world history (seventh grade) with 7 days and 1 extra period. Again, not shocked. I covered a week of this, too.
    • Then it's geography (5 days/2 extras) and government (5 days/4 extras), followed by eighth grade U.S. history (3 days/2 extras), psychology (3 days/1 extra), and economics (2 days/1 extra).
  • Math: 38 days with 10 extra periods
    • Most days in math were Integrated Math 1 (what used to be called algebra). Not surprising, as that's probably the math class with the most students in it. 21 days/6 extras.
    • In second place, Integrated Math 1 (read: geometry) with 8 days/7 extras.
    • Third place is seventh grade math with 7 days/2 extras.
    • Then it's eighth grade math (5 days/4 extras), business math (5 days), Integrated Math 3 (4 days/1 extra), math analysis and calculus (1 day--the same day as it's the same teacher for both), and statistics (1 period--again, same teacher as analysis and calculus).
  • English: 35 days with 13 extra periods
    • In third place!?! I'm shocked.
    • Most days were for eleventh grade at 15 days and 3 extras.
    • Second place is twelfth grade with 13 days and 3 extras.
    • Third place is eighth grade with 5 days and 1 extra.
    • As for the rest: seventh grade (4 days/2 extras), ninth grade (3 days/8 extras), and tenth grade (2 days/5 extras). 
    • There were 5 extra periods of journalism, but that's because the journalism teachers teach English the rest of the day.
    • I had 3 days but 10 extra periods of ELD (English language development), and again, that's because those teachers had one period of ELD with the rest of the day teaching other English classes.
  • Science: 31 days with 12 extra periods
    • In first place is chemistry with 10 days. I covered 6 days near the beginning of the year, so unsurprising.
    • Biology is in second place with 7 days/2 extras.
    • Seventh grade science comes in third place with 5 days/5 extras.
    • Then there's earth science (3 days/2 extras), environmental science (3 days/3 extras), eighth grade (2 days/3 extras), health (2 days/1 extra), intro to health care (1 day/1 extra), anatomy/physiology (1 day), and engineering (1 extra period).
  • Special education: 16 days with 12 extra periods
  • Miscellany
    • 11 days with 3 extras in computer classes. 8 of those were in the CAD class while Mr. G was finishing up his jury duty.
    • 2 days with 2 extra periods in woodshop. 
    • 14 days in ceramics. Because the teacher broke his collarbone.
    • 4 days in foreign languages. Spanish (1 day/4 extras), French (1 day), and Mandarin (2 days/1 extra). Yup, they have Mandarin classes.
    • 2 extra periods of drama (because those teachers teach English the rest of the day).
    • 3 days of ASB, 5 extra periods of "leadership" (some ASB, some middle school leadership).
    • 1 extra period of music. 2 extra periods of TV/video production.
    • 5 extra periods of golf.
It's always interesting to look at the numbers. Some of these days I remember, some of these days make the blog, and some of these days the kiddos behaved and the day passed unremarkably. 

I sure get around, don't I?

Previous years' stats:

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Peep Show

It was Monday of the last week of school. The eighth graders were on a celebratory field trip to Knott's Berry Farm. The teacher I was covering was one of the chaperones, and I was left with all of his seventh graders.

Mr. S had one period of middle school leadership, one period of middle school theater, and two periods of English Language Development (read: English learners). As his leadership and theater classes needed a different sort of room, he traveled to a more academic classroom for the ELD classes.

The room he used for his ELD classes housed health classes the rest of the day.

It's the end of the semester, so the health classes are currently studying sexually transmitted diseases, something first period gleefully informed me of. (I knew this already, so I shrugged it off.)

The classes' assignment was an essay about what goals they had for their summer vacation. And they were less than pleased to be writing.

And sixth period...

They were terrible in the usual sort of way. I was not shocked. So, I tried to settle them as I went into explaining what they were doing for the period.

"He lets me pull up the screen."

All classrooms have projectors now, and most of the time the screen is down. I didn't need the board underneath, but I figured what was the harm in letting the boy raise the screen?

As soon as the screen went up, the whole class erupted in hoots and hollers.

I looked back at the board...

Posted to the white board was a poster of the female reproductive system.

I pulled the screen back down.

I should have known.

The boys (there were two girls in the class of about twenty) didn't settle at all that period. I have a feeling that's their normal behavior. At least that class is no more. (School let out on the 6th. It is officially summer vacation.)

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

The Trees

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 trees stored memories?

Monday, June 10, 2019

Testing with the Walking Purse

I finally broke down and did it. I bought a light box.

I'd been making do with something I'd constructed out of poster board for almost a year now. Initially I wanted to see if it would help with lighting. It did. But it was flimsy, so I spent half my photographing time holding it up.

I bought it about a month ago. I only just got around to setting it up and trying it out.

I figured I might as well take pictures of the second walking purse...

I'm rather pleased with how these came out. And I'm quite happy that all I had to do was set up the light box and not worry about the whole thing toppling over as I shot.

This is my second attempt at this purse. (If you want to know why this is a walking purse, the explanation is here.) I made a few modifications. Mainly, I changed out the border...

I have not lined it yet. As I finished the putting together of it just before the cold hit, I'll blame illness (although "just" before is rather stretching things).

I plan to write up the pattern at some point. I'll add it to my ever growing list of published patterns.

The bead that I'm using as a button rather looks like a soap bubble...

I'm rather pleased with the purse. And the light box. I still have a ways to go before I feel comfortable with it, but it feels way more comfortable than how I felt when I got the new camera. So, progress.

Friday, June 7, 2019

Graduation Daydream

Our school year has come to a close. This is very early for us. But in a case of "if you can't beat them, join them", the school district has adjusted the school year to be more in line with much of the rest of the country.

Next week I'll have any stories from the last week of school (assuming I work any), with Friday serving as my annual year end stats post. Then it'll be on to the "summer schedule" until and unless I get any summer school assignments. (In the past this has been fairly light, but last summer I kept pretty busy. We'll see what this summer holds.)

So, to close out the year (and because last week's classes were way too boring to write about), it's time for the annual presentation of the graduation daydream. Just to give this a little perspective this year, this was the year that niece graduated. When I first posted this, she had just finished the first grade. (Yikes, I'm old.) And I mentioned the entering kindergartners were the class of 2021. Yeah, that's the entering junior class for next year.

I first posted this in 2008 (but, oddly, not last year). I was working the last day of school. (The teacher was attending her child's 8th grade promotion.) I had the door open. It was passing period, and I could hear the students just outside. One girl said to her friends, "We're seniors now". It wasn't exactly true as they still had three periods to go, but the seniors had had their graduation ceremony the night before, so they were the oldest students at the school at that point. 

I had a prep period then. And I was beat. So, I leaned back, closed my eyes, and I tried to doze. The girl's comment replayed, and I imagined a scene...

It starts with a stage filled with teens in caps and gowns. A graduation ceremony. The new graduates look over the audience filled with proud parents. They're excited. They've finally finished school, and they're looking forward to the next phase of their lives.

The new graduates exit at the side of the stage. They hug each other. Many are in tears. They meet up with parents, take pictures, and gradually leave the area.

The stage is empty, but not for long.

Off to the other side of the stage is another group of students a year younger than those who just exited. They climb the stairs and claim the stage for themselves.

The new senior class surveys its domain. Some look in corners. Others go to the edge of the stage and peer out at the audience. Many are cheering, fist pumping, and bouncing up and down. Two boys run at each other and bump chests. They have arrived.

While the new senior class celebrates, the area just off the stage that was just vacated starts to fill. This group looks around in awe and wonder. A few look up the steps, itching to join the new seniors. Several look out over the line that stretches out behind them. It's a long line and it seems to disappear into the horizon.

As each group moves up to the next position, they look over their new surroundings. The new freshman class, however, is so busy celebrating and laughing at the group just below them that they don't notice how trashed their new position is. Then again, their old spot in the line wasn't much better.

The newest middle schoolers carefully take up their new position. They are all wide-eyed wonder. The more adventurous pull their peers along. They take their time looking around, acclimating to their new position in line. There's a demarcation behind them, and they thought they'd never get beyond that border. Now that they are, they're not sure what they're going to do next.

Each elementary grade moves up one. As the former kindergartners take their first grade spot (and make themselves right at home), an empty spot is left at the end of the line. But like all the other spots in line, this one doesn't remain empty for long.

Off in the distance, family groups start to arrive. The parents push their little ones into their spot in line. Some of these children run to take over their spot. Others cling. The families stand there, watching their little ones for some time, not sure what to do next.

One mother shakes her head as she watches her little one acclimate to the line. "They grow up so fast," she says.

Nearby, various people are on their way out of the area. One woman hears the kindergartner's mother, so she turns to her and says, "You have no idea." The woman looks off into the distance where her graduate is off with friends.

"You have no idea," the woman repeats.