April 14, 2014

What I learned last week #12

by Janie Jones

Coil pots ROCK!  But camera batteries suck.  I was going to take photos of all the new pots I threw on the wheel, ’cause I made some really nice ones finally, but my camera battery was dead.  So I tried to take a few photos with my cell phone but this was the only one that turned out.


My coil vase rocks!

I will miss pottery class, there’s only 4 more class sessions, it’s been a lot of fun.  But, I’ve met my project quota to pass the class so I’m also glad that it’s almost over.  It was a night class and it really put me in a bind this semester.  Janie just don’t do nights.

I’m getting pretty sick of all  my classes this semester, biology has shifted into studying plant anatomy, which I find incredibly dull.  I am getting so burned out on calculus homework I’ve ceased caring about much of anything and dread the mountain of homework we have thrust upon us daily.  It’s only my inhuman level of duty and the absolute fear of having to take this course over again that keeps me showing up to class and even trying to slog through the homework.  Not that I’m retaining much.  But I started out the semester strong with an 88% at midterm so hopefully that will carry me through so I can at least get my C so I can put this nightmare behind me.  And, poor o-chem.  I’m so overwhelmed by calculus and am so far behind in my study time for o-chem that I’m only sitting at an 83% going into our final unit.  This does not please me.  I need to pass calculus.  I NEED to PASS calculus.  But I will be so crushed if doing so ruins my 0-chem grade.  O-chem is not that hard, it just requires a lot of memorization that I don’t have time for and that is why it is so very sad.  It would be different if it was as hard as calculus.  And, my o-chem teacher doesn’t give any points for any work you do except 4 tests, a final and your lab reports.  Would be nice if we could get some other points to buffer our grade.  C’est la vie.

So, on account of having little to say that doesn’t sound negative, I’m going to borrow a topic and refer you to a link from a blog I read.  It’s by Jess, and it talks about the difference between cement and concrete.  I found it interesting, it fits my topic of what I learned last week, and it reminded me of a funny incident from my childhood.  I’ve kept thinking about it all weekend, so I decided to share my comment there here, for the benefit of you who don’t normally visit Scratching to Escape, but I recommend you take a peek at his post first, so my comment makes more sense.

I did not know that. I haven’t given the difference between concrete and cement much thought since I was a wee small kid-butt. I remember being in a car with the family and being stopped, stuck in a particularly bad patch of traffic where there was some construction or road work or something. It was a long, long time ago and the details are foggy but I remember seeing some kind of truck with a huge yellow colored barrel thing tilted to one side. The only frame of reference in my limited kid-butt experience was of the Plochman’s Yellow Salad Mustard jars that are yellow barrel shaped. Not realizing I was speaking out loud I said, “Wow, that’s one big mustard truck!” My dad said, while my mom laughed, “That’s a cement mixer.” And, pretty much from that day forward I assumed that cement was the “liquid” form of concrete.

For some reason this one incident, and a wonky sense of kid logic, stuck with me and formed my whole life long understanding of concrete and cement.  At least until I read Jess’ post.  The mind moves in mysterious ways.

17 more days of Calculus.

April 9, 2014

I am from France (and other random weirdness)

by Janie Jones

I have switched from the bulky wool parka to my lighter weight fleece lined wind breaker for my pre-dawn rambles with Rupert.  This particular jacket has a very stiff windbreaker material and thus, when the hood is on it does not “settle” down on to my head as much as perches precariously until a stiff wind blows it off.  So I pull the drawstrings relatively snug to get it to hug my head.  Thanks to a series of lovely days sporting 40 something degree highs, most of the snow has melted off the streets, and walking along this morning under a street lamp with my hood snugged around my face I noticed my shadow cruising along in front of me.  You know, that hood made me look like I was a dead ringer for Prymaat Conehead.  For some reason this struck me as funny.

You know what else I find funny, but have been too busy to mention?  Last summer when I picked up extra hours working on the campus of Local College, the staff secretary made a door placard for the new office for the alumni association.  I have no idea how many times I walked past it and never really looked at it.  Then suddenly one day about a month or two ago I came out of the bathroom (directly across the hall from said office) and noticed for the first time in 6 or more months that it actually said, Alumi Association.  Next time I saw the secretary I mentioned it to her and she laughed as I was the first person, including herself who made the sign, to notice.  It’s still hanging there misspelled.

Yesterday was ceramics class.  I spent about 5 or 6 hours glazing pots.  I didn’t even work with wet clay and today my hands feel like sandpaper they are so dry.  It is vaguely disconcerting to hear them scratch against the key pad as I type.  On account of working with clay and it drying out my hands, I have been going through much more hand cream.  I buy this generic brand similar to Eucerin.  It comes in large “vats” and they generally last me a long, long time.  It’s probably been at least 3 years since I bought one last.  I tend to buy a couple tubs at once to have them in my room, the bathroom, the kitchen, etc.  Well I stopped in to Walmarz over the weekend to stock up finally being low again.  I kid you not they doubled in price in the last few years.  Doubled.

Off to school.  4 more weeks.

Happy Hump Day.

April 7, 2014

What I Learned Last Week #11

by Janie Jones

Actually, I learned some really cool things about math during my “research” for the paper I have to write for Calculus class.  I enjoyed reading books on math much more than I ever enjoyed actually “doing” math.  I amassed enough interesting ideas to write several papers, but alas, I don’t have time to follow up on all these topics, so in true harried student style, I picked the one easiest to follow and threw some words on a page.

You know what else I learned?  It’s really, really hard to write anything good when you are limited to 600-700 words.  That’s about 2 and a third pages double spaced with the format requirements given.  Just giving proper transitions to citations eats up a lot of space, and leaves you with very little real estate to do much beyond a lame book report.  As much as I don’t have time to write a lengthier paper, it just seems so half-assed it’s like why bother.  But I remind myself, it’s worth 25 points, that’s half a test grade.

Anyway, I decided to do a very brief overview of Fibonacci Numbers and the idea that math is the “fiber of our lives” even if we don’t know it.  I am thinking of posting it after it’s been turned in, so if you should ever be interested in reading it, I’ll let you know when it’s available.

In biology we’ve moved on to study plants.  I’m not much interested in plants on a biological level, so I’m not much looking forward to the last few weeks of class.

In chemistry we had a very fortunate happenstance.  We ran out of reagent and our lab was canceled last week.  Which is awesome, because I am so woefully behind in Chem.  We have a test on Wednesday over the last 3 chapters, which I’ve only read the first and half of the second.  So, now that my math paper is written I’ll have to really devote some time to catching up and hope Calc teacher doesn’t get crazy with the Calc homework in the next few days.

And, finally in ceramics we’re down to the last 2 or 3 classes to work with wet clay.  Leif has made over 20 beautiful bowls/pots/cups.  I did manage a better showing for myself last week, but forgot to take pictures.  I have so much glazing to do now, I don’t know that I’ll have much time for making more pieces.  We will see.  And I will endeavor to remember to get pictures!

Now, I’m down to just 4 more weeks!  I can almost start the countdown in days….


April 6, 2014

Dare I to Dream

by Janie Jones

That spring is springing?  This is the weather right now:

Weather reportWe are expecting a high of 51 and sunny.

Leif wants me to drive out for the day.  I should be doing laundry.  I should be studying chemistry.  I should be doing calculus.  But.  It is a lovely day.  It does seem a shame to stay inside….

April 1, 2014

And then Janie said….

by Janie Jones

Raspberry Tongue Face

April Fools!


March 31, 2014

What I Learned Last Week #10

by Janie Jones

Not so much what I learned, but what was confirmed:  I suck at story problems.  Calculus class spent 2 days on them last week.  I just am lacking something in my brain that is necessary to make heads or tails of them.  So, I am hoping to focus on my “research paper,” (which I don’t have a concrete topic for yet) to save my grade when it comes time to take the next test which will cover story problems among other inscrutable calculus concepts.

I also learned that Leif is a better potter than I am.  You can see and compare:


These are my pots from my 2nd time on the pottery wheel.  Now have a gander at Leif’s 2nd time on the wheel:

0325141743-00Since these photos were taken, he’s been in to the studio 2 more times and made a total of 12 additional pieces, each better than the last and thoroughly professional looking.  Now, my first 4 pots aren’t horrible, but upon close inspection one can very much tell they are clumsy and amateur.  They will suffice to get me a grade and I am relieved for that, but, they are only my first 4 pots.  I hope to improve.  So this week I have to get some more wheel throwing time and try to make a better showing for myself, even if I don’t reach Leif’s genius status.

Biology last week was filled with tests, so there was no new material to cover.

O Chem had a lab that gave some interesting solid products.  I don’t know if you can really see what is in these photos, but the first product was light and fluffy almost like snow or tiny lint fuzzies:


The second formed these interesting suspensions in the aqueous solution they precipitated from:


Don’t ask me what they are, I haven’t actually finished the lab yet, but I thought that was a little cool and exciting.

Okay, so, 10 weeks down, 6 to go.

March 28, 2014

Your suggestions would be greatly appreciated

by Janie Jones

As if Calculus hadn’t eaten enough of my life and soul already, the other day Calculus Teacher assigned a “research” paper.

Yes.  Seriously.  I have to write a paper for Calculus class.  On top of the obscene mountains of normal homework Calculus Teacher is so fond of assigning.

Thankfully, it’s not a long one, just two pages with the standard double spaced lines and 1 inch margins and 12 point font.  It’s not the writing of the paper that has me in a tizzy.  It’s coming up with a suitable topic and finding resources to “support” it.

So, I am here begging your assistance.  Any ideas about topics I could use?

It doesn’t have to be about Calculus, as long as it is related to some math subject.

In an effort to get busy, as the paper is due April 15th, I tried skimming the library data base for some ideas.  I read that there’s been some research done on using complex math as a means of helping people with severe handicaps communicate.  Apparently, just thinking about a complex math problem makes your eyes dilate.  So, for people who cannot communicate via normal means, yes and no answers can be given just by thinking of a complex equation, and for example if you ask a disabled person a question and their answer is yes, they might think of a math problem and their eyes will dilate significantly enough that the person asking the question can see the dilation and know their answer to the question asked is in the affirmative.  Very interesting.

According to this study, I must be walking around in a semi permanent state of eye dilation lately.

While this is fascinating, I don’t think there’s enough material to write on this particular article alone.  So, if you can lend me a few brain cells to come up with some topic ideas, I would be much obliged.