A Certain Lack of Focus

Friday, November 30, 2007

Drawing of the Day

It's called: "I just wanted to walk my fish."medusaDon't ask what it means. Some things are better left alone. No normal post today, I've got class early tomorrow.

By the way, does anyone know why my pictures now pop up a download box if you click on them instead of going to a larger version? The html appears to be identical except for the file names, but maybe I missed something...

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Hey look at me, I'm posting again!

booksI met with my thesis adviser today. It was surprisingly good.

Sheila's wonderful, it helps that she actually likes my writing but she also has good advice (which I suppose is the whole point of being in grad school). I've been struggling like mad over the latest section in my novel so it was nice when I went in with it, half finished, and had Sheila tell me I should leave it as is. She thought the abrupt sections were intentional.

I'm fine with that, this section's been a pain in my ass, so if my adviser thinks it's finished enough I'm more than happy to move on. Meanwhile, I'm up to 94 pages. W00t. I'm hoping to hit 100 before the end of the semester (I've got two weeks, but I've also got a paper due in my nonfiction class), I think it's doable. Then I can ignore it over winter break and go back with a (theoretically) fresh mind next semester.

My hope is that I'll be entirely done by the end of Spring Semester so I can leave it alone during the summer (or just do structural revisions) and be a bit more clearheaded for revising next fall. The other reason why I can't really have much left to do in the fall is that I'm getting married in the middle of October, Honeymoon to follow, which could make cramming in much of a novel difficult.

Drawing of the Day

This was drawn for Illustration Friday. The topic was "The Zoo."zooThis is probably a little dark for Illustration Friday, but it's what popped into my head. This is a combination of #1 micron and brushpen. I'm starting to dig the brushpen although I'm not really using it to it's full potential.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Drawing of the Day

hammerIt's supposed to be a hammer but it looks more like a picket sign. Meh.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Drawing of the Day

Here's my contribution for the day.
booksIs it next semester yet?

Amazon Ad Ons

I added on a few Amazon Widgets to my blog... The main one is my wish list, on the side bar. This is mostly on there for my parents and relatives who always tell me they don't know what to get me for Christmas. There's also an Amazon search, at the bottom of the sidebar, please do use this if you're doing any Amazon shopping over the holidays... Amazon gives me money if you get to their site through my blog, and end up buying something. That goes for any of the amazon links on my site.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Drawing of the Day

My brain hurts. I'm buried under homework and school crap.buriedNo post today, maybe not for a few days. I'll try to keep up with drawing something or other though. I just can't think right now.

Drawing of the Day

This is a drawing copied from The Nude Figure.nakedIt's a good book full of poses, comes in vary handy when I'm trying to check proportions of a freehand figure. The model in this photo kind of disturbed me because she looks like a friend of mine if she dyed her hair black... fortunately (?) my drawing doesn't really look like my friend.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

New Ideas

I recently joined a new blog called Illustration Friday Night. They post a word or phrase every week and contributors have the option of posting an illustration in response. The blog itself is a response to a blog called Illustration Friday which, as they put it, tends to be a little tamer in theme. Friday Night is supposedly a bit edgier or, as they put it: "the only manifesto is to keep things fairly real and raw." We'll see how that goes, I think having a space to post, with decent artists to sort of spurn me could be very helpful. There's another site I wanted to join, Sugar Frosted Goodness! but I think they actually want you to be a professional Illustrator to contribute, which I'm obviously not at this point. Some of the artwork on there is really amazing, my favorites are Michelle White and Mattias Adolfsson.

My posting will probably be a little scant over the next few days because I'm dealing with finals preliminaries...

Drawing of the Day

Today's drawing falls under the category of things I should never show my shrink.treegirlActually this drawing isn't all that screwed up compared to many things I draw, but I do seem to have a fixation with things growing out of character's heads. Not sure why. Here's another drawing I did some time ago that shows a similar theme. This one was intended to be a greeting card cover with the caption: "Having a thorny day?" And the inside reading: "Here's hoping tomorrow is more enchanting." The gag being from the sleeping beauty faerie tale where the princes who went to wake her would get stuck in the enchanted rose thorns. thornsNotice the roots growing out of his hair.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

The Colors of Failure- Part II

caribouThe continuing adventures of making a black dry erase board.

I'd determined that my studio space was seriously lacking by not having a dry erase board hung somewhere. After a disheartening search of existing dry erase boards I discovered that none were cool enough: I wanted one like the kind they hand in Caribou.

After letting the third coat of magnetic primer dry, and deciding my board would never actually be able to hold magnets, I started with the blackboard paint. paintThis was a thinner consistency than the primer, and went on in watery blue streaks that I was a bit doubtful about. I washed my paintbrush again and waited hopefully for it to dry.

Now on the can it says to use a roller to apply the paint to the future blackboard, and I'd meant to do so, but after pouring the paint I realized that I was out of roller brushes. So I ended up having to apply the paint with the same paint brush I'd used for the primer and wasn't all that surprised when it didn't dry right. It did dry black, so at least one worry was gone, but it also dried in brush-stroke groves that reminded me of a vinyl record. I debated whether to run out and get a roller for the second coat, but in the end I was too lazy, and instead I applied the second (and last) coat very very gently so as to avoid the brush groves as much as possible. brushAfter rinsing my brush and other supplies again, I waited some more.

I was happily surprised that the final coat was, I considered, smooth enough to actually use. So I waited another day as recommended for a full dry, then redrilled the holes in the corners, where the paint had closed them. I hung the board and tested it out.

#1: The staff at that particular Caribou are all liars! Ok, maybe that's a bit harsh, but they were certainly wrong about the dry erase markers being just normal dry erase markers. marketsI initially had some difficulty finding light colored dry erase markers; since most dry erase boards are white, naturally most of the pens to write on them are dark colors. Eventually however I found a pack of four neon colors. I tried them out, and to my dismay, the colors didn't show up at all. Actually that's not entirely true, when wet you could see wet streaks, and when dry, if you leaned up close, you could see the faint transparent lines. Picture transparent neon green on a blackboard... yeah... that's helpful.

#2: The staff at Caribou are STILL liars, because not only does the ink not show up, it doesn't wipe off. So now I've got a blackboard (which presumably you can write on with chalk at least, though I didn't try it out, so who knows) with ghostly lines in transparent dry erase ink that is stuck there permanently.

decorationI suppose I could have just used chalk, but my chair is at the same level as the black-white board so it would just have erased the marks I made when I spun it around and it hit against the board. In retrospect, I realize the same thing would have happened with the dry erase markers (had they actually worked correctly) so I can't be too upset about it really. So instead I set about decorating it in barely color.

catThe end result actually looks kinda neat on camera (without the flash you can barely make out the color differences) but it is fairly useless as a message board. My cats on the other hand, are finding that it makes an entertaining passage through to the back of my computer.

Otherwise, I guess I just have a new piece of non-functional art hanging in my studio. Non-functioning art that in normal light looks just like a piece of wood painted black. Ah well, we'll call it "contemporary" or "conceptual" and maybe someone will give me a show...art

Friday, November 23, 2007

The Colors of Failure

If you've ever been to Caribou maybe you've noticed the black boards they have on the wall, announcing their coffee specials and daily trivia? Or maybe not, I know I mostly didn't pay any attention until one day when they took it down at the end of the evening to put up the next day's trivia question.

I'd always assumed they were writing on the chalkboard with chalk... silly me. Turns out their chalkboards also work as dry erase boards! Then I assumed that they were using special dry erase markers, but no they assured me, they were normal run of the mill dry erase pens. AND it's magnetic, which is how they stick all the coffee magnets to it. I realize I'm a bit overexcited about this, but I thought this was just the coolest thing ever, or at least the coolest thing involving dry erase markers.

Fast forward a few months, I'm sitting at my desk thinking I'd like to write myself a list... and post it... somewhere convenient. In fact I realized I need a dry erase board. So I set out to get one, but I'll admit I went in knowing I wasn't going to buy one. Because I wanted a BLACK dry erase board.

After a very quick search that revealed, as I suspected, that there were no readily available black dry erase boards for sale, I decided to make one. I started by measuring the space where I intended to hang it, and getting a piece of plywood cut to fit. After drilling holes, I put it up to make sure it fit right.

Then comes the fun part right? I went out and get some magnetic primer and blackboard paint, using the excuse that it would come in handy later when we make a puppet theater (more on this later I hope) and yes I realize that puppet theaters need not be either magnetic or blackboardy but it's called rationalization people. I put on the first coat of magnetic primer. It was rather bumpy and rough (but then it is primer) but I told myself it would work out ok when it was finished. So I washed my brush and waited for it to dry. After a half hour I was able to try it out, the results were a little bit disappointing. The magnet I tried did seem to have some attraction, but not enough to keep it from sliding off, just enough to make it seem sort of reluctant to do so. So I put on another coat. And washed my brush again. And waited for it to dry again. There really wasn't much discernible difference in the magnet's enthusiasm. I checked the label and found out that they expect you to need something like eight coats before it actually does anything, and even then it's not all that dramatic of a magnetic effect. I guess it shouldn't be all that surprising since they must do it by putting little ground up bits of iron into the paint... that can't be all that strong I suppose. So I put on another coat. And washed my brush. Again.After the last coat dried, I could just barely get the magnet to stick, so long as I held the board at a slight angle. I was sick of magnetic paint at this point and although the can claims it's enough to cover a large wall with ten coats, my can was half empty. So I decided the next day I'd start on the blackboard paint.

*Caribou image taken from flickr.

Continued tomorrow, because I'm being called away for the night...

Drawing of the Day

This is a quick sketch of Elvis, a character from my novel.
elvisIn spite of the horns, Elvis is not actually evil although he certainly doesn't live by a conventional moral code. Elvis is about fourteen in human years, though he's been alive closer to eighteen.

Happy Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving to all, and to all a good... wait a minute... damned early Christmas ads got me all confused...
catsAnd the cats say: "What? Did you want some turkey too?"

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Drawing of the Day

Today's drawing is a tasteless and rather badly drawn cartoon.marioI call it, "Mario and Luigi: The Untold Story." Damnit, now I've got the Mario theme stuck in my head... Dodo do dodo DO! do...

Like a Dirty Old Man, Microsoft Wants In

gatesApparently I'm not the only person who thinks the One Laptop Per Child thing is pretty damn cool. Matt pointed me to this article which he found on Slashdot today. It seems Microsoft can't tolerate the prospect of all these impressionable young children growing up without being touched by Windows.

OLPC is currently in the midst of it's "Buy One, Get One" campaign, where people in the US can buy a laptop and have another donated to a child that needs it. The computer, designed for kids, currently runs Linux, chosen for it's open source coding, and because it's free.

Microsoft is on a mission, a mission funded by what Will Poole (Microsoft Corporate Vice President) calls "a nontrivial amount of money[,]" whatever that means. They're working to make Windows work on the laptop, so that children around the world don't grow up on Linux (the horror, the horror). As the article's author, Jim Finkle points out, " The laptops were designed specifically to run Linux programs. If the machines run only Linux, Microsoft will lose an opportunity to expose tens of millions of children worldwide to its Windows system." We can't have that, can we? It sounds like Microsoft isn't even pretending their intentions are altruistic, and I guess you've at least gotta give them credit for that.

simcityMicrosoft isn't the only large corporation to show interest in the OLPC. EA recently donated the original game SimCity to the program, so that every computer will ship out bundled with the game. In this case the motives do seem to be purely selfless since it seems unlikely that kids in
Rwanda will be rushing to purchase Spore anytime soon. Some bloggers have been sarcastic about the donation, siting how old the game is, but I think it's a pretty cool gesture. True, they probably weren't making a lot of money off SimCity at this point, but they gave something out of the blue when they didn't have to, and a game on city planning will certainly be an asset to kids in developing countries. Besides, it seems unlikely that the computer could have handled a newer version of the game anyway, these aren't exactly supercomputers.

It's nice to see the project getting some corporate attention, selfish or not. I think this gives it a bit more legitimacy and probably helps other people take it seriously. I love the idea of the OLPC and anything that helps it succeed is certainly a good thing.OLPCPS: I doctored the first photo of this post tremendously. This is probably unethical, and possibly illegal, but since no one actually reads my blog I'm not too worried. Bill Gates, if you're reading this, I'd be happy to take down the photo at your request, but only if you leave a comment. The original photo was stolen from Wired's blog, and isn't nearly this creepy. The other pictures link to where I got them from.

Pet Peeve

One of the things that really bugs me is when I see someone pull into the intersection when the road in front of them is full of cars. Inevitably, the light changes, and there they are stuck in the intersection, looking indignant at the cars now honking at them for being in the way. As though they couldn't possibly have seen it coming, and as if it couldn't possibly be their fault. At times like that, I really wish there were a cop somewhere nearby.popoSo I HAD to take a picture at this dumbass cop who committed the same crime. Well done boys, nice to see our tax dollars hard at work, clogging up traffic.

On an entirely unrelated note, while I was at the same intersection at CSU I took this picture and thought I'd share, just because it's kinda cool.fog

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Drawing of the Day

Today's drawing is called "Time Monster" because I'm sleepy and it's bedtime!timeI used a micron brush pen, a medium I'm not real comfortable with but would like to play with more.

What's in Your Bag

backpackSo at some point between elementary school and adulthood (though it's debatable whether I can validly call myself an adult) I got stuck on the backpack concept.

A couple years ago my brother and Kim gave me a messenger bag as part of an attempt to wean me off the backpack. I used it for a few months, and agreed that it looked better, but the problem is I lug around so much stuff that even when I can fit it all into a messenger bag, having it on one shoulder is really not good for long term back health. They're meant to look more mature I guess, but they aren't designed to wear long term. There's a reason they're called messenger bags: you put them on when you need to deliver a message, it's ideal because you can stop when you find the person to receive the message, you don't even have to get off your bike, just unzip the pack which is in FRONT of you, give them their package, and turn right back around. Backpacks are obviously not as well designed for such short term missions, but for someone who needs their stuff hauled from here to there to anywhere for use later, it's the best solution. I stuck with the messenger bag right up until we went on a camping trip, at which point of course I switched my stuff back to the backpack. Carrying it around on my back I was reminded how much more comfortable a backpack is, and I never quite got around to switching back.

poppinsPart of the problem is all the stuff I consider a necessity. If I could find a true Mary Poppins purse I'd be fine. Though, I always thought the purse seemed oddly disorganized for the Poppins character, things strewn around inside so that it takes even Mary Poppins several minutes to find what she's looking for. With my backpack I occasionally can't find what I'm looking for, but usually I know right where everything is. I shudder to think about the bent books and broken pens that would result from throwing everything into a Mary Poppins purse.

When I explain to people why a backpack is the best thing for me, they usually roll their eyes and suggest I scale back on the things I carry (no relation to The Things They Carriedbooks, a novel about Vietnam). To defend myself, here is a list of the things I carry and the reason why I absolutely need it:

Main pocket:

Sketchpad- Well I'm supposed to be an artist, aren't I? It's kind of depressing to see how little I've used my sketchpad lately, but I know (because it's happened) that any time I decide to leave it behind that will be the moment I'm completely inspired to draw. At any rate, now that I'm doing this Drawing of the Day thing, it really does make sense to have my sketchbook in case I have a few minutes to scribble something down.

Notebook- For some reason I have a problem writing things down in my sketchbook. I'll do it in a pinch if I've got no better place to do it, but for whatever reason, it bugs me. I think it's the waste of drawing space, although I waste plenty with a single random line that I decide isn't good enough to continue, or a smudge that ruins my canvas, the idea of using my sketchpad as mere scrap paper offends me. So I carry around a notebook to jot down story ideas, composition ideas, random overheard quotes that are too wonderful not to write down, "I wonder" questions to look up the answer to later, and just about anything else that pops into my head that I want to save. At some point I'll get a phone with a decent notepad function, so this will be less necessary, but I'll probably keep carrying a notebook, kind of like a security blanket.

stuffBook- Whatever I happen to be reading at that moment. I probably really shouldn't carry this, because whenever I'm going somewhere to work on something I tend to tell myself: just one chapter won't hurt and end up wasting an hour or so, but I'm going to carry one regardless, for the times when I'm actually justified in relaxing with a story.

Art Kit- This is actually just a glorified pen case. In addition to my microns and pencils (with one end padded to keep the tips from breaking!) it holds erasers, pencil sharpeners, a small eraser stencil template, paint brushes, dip pen ends, charcoal and conte crayons. I'm not even going to argue why I need this, because I assume it's obvious.

Other things I don't exactly need but like to have- Lately I've been taking my digital camera with me, design or craft magazines, a copy of Offbeat Bridebags (what? I'm getting married in a year and I'm allowed to be a little girly sometimes), a handful of Vindicators (the magazine I edit) and whatever handouts I've got from my most recent class.

Front Pocket:

Although it's smaller, my front pocket probably holds more essentials than the main pocket. Part of the problem with the messenger bag was that the side pocket wasn't nearly big enough. My actual necessities include my inhaler, an emergency pad, Dramamine, Rolaids, Benadryl, and Advil.

The rest of the side pocket isn't strictly necessary, but very good to have on hand. I have Chapstick, some Chloraseptic throat strips, Airborn, a granola bar, Kleenex, hair ties, a spare phone battery and a phone charger. I keep my headphones because having them on helps me focus, a pocket constitution because I got sick of hearing people argue "It's my constitutional right" when it's not, and a tape recorder because you never know. Sometimes I carry a pocket knife but I tend not to because I fly often and am always afraid I'll forget to take it out.

For a while I was having a real problem organizing this pocket, it all just turned into a mess of junk at the bottom and I couldn't find anything. It was worse than a Mary Poppins purse. I went out and got some kind of craft kit from Jo-Ann Fabrics that's worked beautifully. It keeps most of the small things separated by netting so I can still see what I'm looking for. For pills I picked up some twist-close bead containers and, since they were in the same aisle, put googley eyes on top. What isn't better with googley eyes?

Finally, in one side pocket I carry my Nalgene bottle and in the other I keep my computer adapter. The only thing I can't carry in my backpack is my laptop, I know they make laptop bags but I haven't seen any I particularly like. I'll get one at some point, but for now I just carry it in a slim computer case, so at least it doesn't take up much room. I actually can shove it in my bag if I have to, but it's a pain in the ass.
Anyway, that's why I use a backpack, and I defy anyone to convince me that this all could fit into a purse.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Drawing of the Day

Sometimes you sit down to draw with no clear idea in mind, and what ends up on paper is so brilliant and wonderful that it surprises even you.
birdladyToday was not one of those times. I call this "Crazy Hippy Bird Lady Thing." I think there's really nothing more to say about this drawing.

Actually I take that back, silly as this drawing is, I do enjoy funky creatures and weird sketches such as this, and would like to do more in a similar suit. I think I'm just embarrassed to admit that I like this drawing.


I just ran across a nifty website. It's called 43 things and the concept is extremely simple. It looks like people just log in and make a list of things they want to do. They can be daily goals, life goals, or just silly whims, and the combination is really quite entertaining. People who log on do have the opportunity to write a post on their goals, but for the most part it's a site of just lists. The best part is the site's design, I can't really describe it, so go check it out. http://www.43things.com

I found it while looking for other blogs that do a Drawing of the Day type thing. Apparently there are four people on the site who have as one of their goals, to do a drawing every day. Kinda cool. I've still yet to find another blog that's doing this with sketches. A few that used to, a few that call it a drawing a day but post almost never. I'm sure there must be others, can someone tell me if they've seen some?

I Promised You Dragon Sex

In an earlier post, I mentioned something about dragon mating, so I thought I'd go ahead an explain that now.

booksA little while ago, I got to wondering how whales have sex. These sort of thoughts pop into my head all the time and Matt and I have a rule (which we do our best to follow) that whenever we wonder something, we look up the answer. This came about after because both of us are inclined to say I wonder a hundred times a day, and then we used to leave it at that. We realized that if we started finding the answers to all those "I wonders" we'd be the smartest people in the world within weeks. Or maybe not quite, but a lot smarter than we are now.

At any rate, I was wondering how whales mate, but I said I guessed that they mated stomach to stomach like birds, because, like birds, they aren't really effected by gravity and so can mate in midair so to speak, only in the water. Matt looked at me like I was crazy when I said this, (I get that a lot) and asked what I meant.

Of course I thought everyone knew that all birds mate in midair, but as soon as I started to think about it I realized I didn't mean birds after all. I meant dragons. Everyone knows dragons mate in midair, right? Right?

See I was remembering reading Dragondrums (Harper Hall Trilogy) by Anne McCaffrey as a teenager. There's a scene in the book where two of the mini-dragons (were the called fire lizards maybe? It's been a long time. I guess I'll have to look THAT up too.) had a mating flight, and the image was so vivid that I automatically thought of any creature with flight, or flight like abilities (swimming) as mating in the same way. When I continued thinking about it, I realized most birds probably mate the same way most animals do, mounting from the back, with a bit of aid in balance from the wings.

So I looked that up. I couldn't find any specific explanation of how birds mate, but when I did a search for midair mating I found that some kinds of swallows at least do mate in flight, which is kind of cool. They seemed to be the exception however. And then of course, I had to look up whales. I couldn't find much, at least nothing much useful. I did find a site on dolphin sex, and by that I don't mean sex between two consenting dolphins. Of course the humans who enjoy dolphin sex claim that the dolphins consent and are obviously enjoying themsleves. I'm hoping it's a parody site, but with the things people do, it's kind of hard to tell. At least one kind of whale does mate stomach to stomach, and I'm still betting the others do to, just judging by their shape. The tail seems like it would get in the way of mating from the back/top, unless the whale in question had a vagina on top, which defies my ideas of biology.
dragonSince I couldn't actually look up dragon mating, I guess we'll never know if I'm right about dragon mating. Now that I think about it, I wonder how Komodo Dragons mate, since they're obviously stuck on the ground, but there's still that huge tail in the way. I guess it could be shoved aside. They certainly aren't built for missionary style.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Drawing of the Day

I guess I was feeling a little whimsical or something today.
mermaidThis is a quick sketch in soft black pencil. I'm not usually big on mermaids, but for some reason this is what came out when I sat down to draw today. The eel was originally going to be a fish, but it was starting to look a little too "cute" and I wanted the visual overlap of something larger. That's not a lumpy shoulder on the left, it's supposed to be lighter color hair, but the scanner didn't quite pick up that line.

Saturday, November 17, 2007


I took today's drawing from various photos on Kim's garden site.flowersIt's hard to tell these are flowers I guess since I'm just using line and no value, but line is quite fun for me and I haven't had much time to play with it lately so this was a nice exercise. I'd forgotten how much I enjoyed drawing flowers, I was wanting to draw something organic but uncomplicated (and flowers believe it or not are surprisingly simple when compared to other plant life). Here are some flower drawings I did years ago when I was in a product design class (Industrial Design) which I unfortunately dropped because I was an idiot.

I'm not sure what kind of pen this is, since I'm fairly certain it's before I discovered microns but it's obviously got a very fine point. I'm thinking it might have been one of the decorative roller point pens I loved when I was younger, with a .01 point.flowersI loved doing this drawing, and ended up using the eye-like buds for a creature drawing a few years later. I might post that some later day if I can find it in my old sketch books.
flowersThis one is kind of loose, which I think is the charm.flowersMy favorite part of this drawing is the joint on the bottom twig. I also think the energy of the bouncy leaves is a lot of fun.
flowersThose drawings were taken from a sketchbook assignment under John Caruso, I'd guess in 2001 or 2002. Frighteningly, they're all more effective than the drawing I just did today (though it's hard to tell at this size and with scanner problems), which makes me think I need FAR more practice...

Super Bug Difficulties

On WCPN a few days ago there was a talk about the risk from the "super bug" and how best to prevent it.*
superbugMRSA is becoming more common in hospitals and now it's starting to turn up in schools, and people are kind of panicking. The general conclusion seemed to be that the best way to keep yourself and your children safe from MRSA is to frequently wash your hands (and make sure they do as well) with soap and water (no matter whether or not it's antibacterial), and make sure your doctors do the same (frightening that you might need to police your doctors and nurses as much as you do children). This is a pretty commonsense answer, but one of the speakers did bring up an interesting problem that I hadn't considered. With kids at least, many schools do not allow children to wash their hands before, say, eating lunch.

Now one of the experts on the show said this appalled her, not just because of the current health issue, but because it undermines a basic tradition of most families, washing hands before eating is kind of one of those basic lessons children learn before they remember learning it, like: look both ways before crossing the street, don't talk to strangers, and don't put the knife back in the peanut butter jar after you lick it. handwashWhen I first heard this, I'll admit, I also thought not LETTING children wash their hands before eating was ridiculous, but when you think about it, as Dan Moulthrop (the show's host) pointed out, it kind of makes sense.

For the sake of simplicity, imagine a school which is made up of a single thirty student class of first graders. Now let's say it's lunch time, should the teacher release all thirty students at once to the bathroom? Talk about a bad idea. Of course this problem is pretty simple, this small class could easily be released in groups of five, no more than three boys or girls at one time. It would take a bit of time to manage, but not really a big deal.

Only there's no such thing as a school made up of just first graders, and even a thirty student classroom is pretty optimistic these days. What happens when two or three classes have lunch at the same time? What if the entire school eats at once? Again, these single problems are easily solved by staggering times, but as the variables increase the solutions get a bit stickier, and the end result is a logistical nightmare. The more children you have roaming free the easier it is to lose track of a child (or ten), and this is generally frowned upon at schools.

sinksOne possibility is to have the teacher escort the class, but then again you have a bathroom full of children all at once, disaster waiting to happen since the teacher can obviously not supervise both the Girls and the Boys room. If the teacher has an aide or two this might be easier, but with faculty-student ratios shrinking (spreading? I'm never sure which way that goes. worse anyway) all the time aides are probably a bit of a fantasy at this point, and even if they all do have aides, again you run into the problem of space, when an entire school has to eat at some point near midday.

The best solution Matt and I could think of was to have a bank of sinks at the back of the classroom. That way students can line up while the teacher supervises, and hopefully the mess and excitement that would otherwise occur could be avoided. Even this is not perfect however, since at a guess twenty minutes would need to be set aside just for hand washing, and unless classrooms are already equipped with a convenient bank of sinks, the likelihood of getting the funding for it is far-fetched at best. It's an interesting problem, and unfortunately I doubt the schools will come up with a practical solution. I don't say this because I think a practical solution doesn't exist, I say it because I don't trust any large institution (public schools) to both see and choose a practical solution.

*Photos from flickr and UK's Daily Mail.