Sunday, January 24, 2016

Blog has Moved to a New Location

Holy Geeze,
It has been almost seven years since I created this blog.  Since that time, I realized that I had seemed to drop off the planet.  In some ways, I sort of did - migraines, change of job, location, and all sorts of things.

Anyways, for those of you that drop by this blog, and want more of my writing, I am now in two places!  I figured it'd be easier to redirect people, as opposed to figuring out how to mesh this blog with the others, but who knows?  That may come.

To find me in my active places, you can visit my professional blog here:

or, for more fictiony stories and prose, go to my Lachesis blog, instead.

I am quite delighted to see you again!!!!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

A Bit of Zen

I’ve had two moments in my teaching career which have completely changed my life and saved my sanity. I will talk about the second moment, and save my first for another bloggy.

It happened during my sixth year teaching. As a know-it-all hot shot bio teacher, I was invited to a Strategic Literacy Workshop sponsored by West Ed in Oakland, California. The experience was so profoundly eye opening that it completely changed how I taught and viewed my students and people in general.

While composting numerous piles of paperwork today, I came across a list from our company presenter, Liz McKay which summed it all. It was written by Ferdinand F. Fournies, from his book, “Why Employees Don’t Do What They’re Supposed to Do and What to Do About It.”


  1. They didn’t know why they should do it
  2. They didn’t know when to begin and end it
  3. They didn’t know what they were supposed to do
  4. They didn’t know how to do it
  5. They thought they were doing it
  6. They thought your way wouldn’t work or that their way was best
  7. They thought something else was more important
  8. They aren’t rewarded for doing it, or aren’t punished for not doing it
  9. They didn’t think they could do it

My student teaching year was the hardest year of my life. Most of my frustrations stemmed from the fact that I had high expectations for my students, but I did all of the work and they never did what they were supposed to. Nine years later, I mentor many teachers with the same issues: How can I get them to do what I ask?

…and my answer is, “You teach them.”

If they are not doing what you ask, than assume that they don’t know how. I had an instructor come to me frustrated that her students did not do their reading homework. I asked her if she taught them how to read the book. HOW MANY teachers have taught students how to read a textbook? Did she ever teach them how to read HER textbook? Ah HAAAA! Problem solved. (Then I wonder: Were WE ever taught how to teach a student to read a textbook???)

If a teacher understands that their students don’t know XY or Z, than teach them how. Don’t assume they already know, otherwise, they would’ve done what you asked them to do! -Unless they’re distracted. (More on this later)

One of my favorite quotes was from my mentor Gina Hale at West Ed: “Teach them the process and the content will come though.” Focusing on the process lets a student know that they CAN do it, and that we’re there to help each step of the way

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Interview at Starbucks

This was written in response to a writing challenge on the Digital Webbing Forums. I hope you enjoy! ^.^

Interview at Starbucks
copyright 2009 by Yen Verhoeven

"One triple shot tall raspberry mocha please." I say to the Starbucks barista. Behind me, my future "employer" is gawking at my legs. When one pairs thigh highs and heels correctly, the results can be absolutely devastating.

Case in point: As I sit down in front of him, I have to tap his chin. "You might want to close your mouth Felixxxs." I use a sensual purr to pronounce his name, making it sound like a very dirty word in the bedroom. Sliding the sunglasses off my face, I hook them into my figure-hugging dress shirt that expresses every curve on my toned upper body; the cleavage just barely peaking over.

"I uh…I'm uh…glad you could uh…make it." he stutters, captured by my brilliant violet eyes. That's right Felix…stare all you want. You're already mine and what's worse is that you know it.

I watch in amusement as a red blush forms on his cheeks while he struggles to control his thoughts, composing them together between the oh shit, she knows who I am and damn, she's f-ing gorgeous. Poor guy. He has no idea what he's getting into and with whom. There's an awkward pause as he waits, wondering if I will tell him my name.

I let it pass, adding to his exquisite torture by crossing my legs under the table. The undeniable rasp of sheer thigh high followed by the discrete brush of my foot against his calf makes him jump. "It was my pleasure." I say, taking a sip of my mocha and leaving that soft, almost perfect imprint of my lips on the lid before setting the cup down.

"Why so nervous, Felix? After all, you were the one that asked me to come." Egads, how do people DRINK this stuff? Even with the extra shots, it tastes like warm bitter water compared to what I'm used to. –And that flavoring? Definitely NOT raspberries.

I smile predatorily as I watch Felix struggle to break his gaze with me. He's very cute. So innocent. So vulnerable. I should be feeling guilty, but I'm having too much fun.

"Er…right, right." he says, clearing his throat. From his worn out briefcase, I watch him produce a packet of papers folded in half. "Uhm, so I prepared a few questions for our interview. You know, to make sure that you're the right fit for the job."

Unbelievable. Well, maybe believable. After all, Felix was a former IT person that got shuffled and reassigned to the HR department. From key puncher to pencil pusher, his HR boss in the upper echelons of the organization, an old gruff gentleman by the name of Colonel Roberson, hates his guts. Could it be because of Felix's psychotically anal attention to detail? Who knows. It doesn't matter anyways since Felix wants him dead.

And now, dear Felix is going to give me a behavioral interview. For an assassination. Oh geeze.

I have to cover my mouth to hide the smirk while I watch him thumb through his little paper packet. It was heavily highlighted in two colors, with blue inked notes and whited out corrections. What was this originally for? A government position as a secretary? With my little predatory smile I reply, “Riiiiight. Go ahead Felix and ask away.” Watch carefully as I eat him with my brain.

"Tell me about a time you had to deal with an unforeseen crisis and what steps did you take to resolve it?" he reads in a confident tone, adjusting his glasses. Placing the packet down, he leans forward, waiting for my response.

"Hmm…" I look away, tilting my head in seeming deep thought while giving him a little encouragement. They always feel better when they think they've stumped you.

"You read the headline about how executive CEO Ted Liberty, from the Liberty Toy Company fell victim to an enteric flesh eating disease, yes?" I ask, tracing my cup with a shiny blood red nail.

"Yes." Poor Felix. His eyes were as round as saucers and his untouched cappuccino was getting cold.

"Yes," I repeat, looking up to capture his gaze once again. "Eighteen dead shortly after his Super Bowl party, two in intensive care, unresponsive to antibiotics. It's only a matter of time." I watch with amusement as a bead of sweat trickled its way down his forehead and to his eyebrow.

"Did YOU do that? How did you do it?" He asks, entirely forgetting the original question. I motion for him to drink his cappuccino. No cream, with one packet of sugar.

"Well, poor Ted's caterer never made it to the party." I say while casually waving my hand in the air. "…something about how a Buick without a driver collided with the catering truck en route. It was a tragic accident." At this point, Felix already knows that the "accident" had something to do with me. I could have told him the gory details but he was already sheet white as it is. I didn't want him throwing up all over the table either.

"Anyways, here's poor Ted, party just starting without a caterer. What's worse, his old college fraternity brothers and his management team were all invited."

"So what happened?" Felix asks, finally taking a sip of his lukewarm drink.

"He calls for pizza." I say with a disarming smile. "This is where I come in. You see, the original delivery driver couldn't make it. He was uh," my eyes move up his buttoned yellow polo shirt, rest on his pocket protector for a brief moment before meeting his gaze, "detained. I stepped in as a substitute." I hear another gulp from Felix. That cappuccino must've hurt coming down.

"So. Here I am with a stack of ten pizzas at the second quarter of the game, and this guy answers the door. He's completely painted in Pittsburgh Steelers gold and black colors and is holding a cat in a Steelers cheerleading outfit." I couldn't keep the growl out of my voice.

"What's wrong with that?" Felix asks.

"I HATE cats."

"Anyways, before Ted can come to the door to pay me, this….LUNATIC grabs me by the arm and pulls me into the room. Suddenly, everyone starts cheering like raving madmen, and the guy tosses popcorn everywhere and starts crushing beer cans on his belly while break dancing on the couch!" I shake my head, remembering that crazy night. Damn cats.

"…All I wanted was to deliver the pizza and make sure they all ate it." I say with a pout. "Instead, I get dragged into this party with a bunch of wild, raving men wearing golden togas and throwing around costumed kittens."

Felix asks me softly, "So, what did you do?"

"Well, to make a long story short, I needed to make an exit without seeming too conspicuous. So grabbing the nearest bottle of beer, I shook it, uncorked it and sprayed it all over my body and proceeded to get everyone completely drunk while they ate all the food." I say with a grin. "I was wearing a white T-shirt you see."

"You WHAT?"

"Yup. White T-shirt." I say, nodding proudly. "That and the pizza was spiked with a teensy weensy amount of highly potent flesh eating mutant E. coli. Fortunately Ted had lots of booze around, so people don't remember my exit. The crazy painted dude with the cat was asleep on the couch while I made off with his hula skirt."

"What happened next?" Felix asked.

"You know the rest of it," I say, looking down at my now empty cup of mocha. "Ted goes to the hospital with liquidated insides, and the rest of his party follow shortly after. It took a few days to accomplish my mission, but public thinks it was a freak food poisoning accident involving the homemade pork sausages found in his freezer. But," I say with a sigh, watching Felix finish his cappuccino. "…now you know the real story."

"So do you have any more questions for me, or do I get the job?" I ask him with a smile. Although I could do it if pushed, spending my afternoon answering more behavioral questions wasn't what I call very entertaining.

Another gulp from Felix as he nods. "Oh yeah. Of course. OF COURSE! You're hired." he adds, taking out a white envelope and sliding it over to me. Leaning in closely, half to be discrete and half so that he can have a better look at my cleavage, he whispers, "I put the shuriken in there. I'll give you the rest when the job's done. Remember, I want it to look like an accident. No witnesses."

I give him a wink, then surprise him with a warm kiss on his lips. The poor guy will need to sit there for a bit before he can walk straight again. "Purrrfect." I say as I get up. "Call me if you need me…" I added as he continued to gawk, mouth wide open again. Blowing him a kiss, I turn to walk out of the cafĂ©.

Too bad Felix won't live to watch me finish the job. He should've been paying closer attention to the poison I left on his lips.

I'll have to remember that antidote and raspberries don't go together. Next time, I might try almond. Ah well. Another day, another dollar.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Corpse Flies

Flesh flies, otherwise known as sarcophagus flies feed on dead or decaying tissue. They're in incredible asset to forensic entomologists because certain species of Sarcophagidae will lay eggs OR live larvae on the body at a certain stage of decay. In other words, some flies like it warm. Others like it cold, and yet others like it nice and mushy. But based on the life cycle of the fly maggot/pupae, forensic entomologists can determine when the individual died.

See a lot of flies like these buzzing around? Chances are that you're at a farm (they eat manure too), something died (like that mouse in the wall of your basement), or your neighbor is hiding something.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

On Aging and Memory

A friend of mine asked me a question relating to aging and memory loss. I thought that it would make a great blog topic, so I put my response here! ^.^

Aging is caused by two factors, both linked to cell division. Cells divide and grow for three purposes: growth of organism, replacement of dead/dying cells, and fortifying the immune system during an infection. Obviously as adults, we no longer grow, so our cells must divide in order to replace other cells. The process of a cell division is called mitosis.

As we age, we lose our ability for our cells to divide. -Cells have the ability to divide continually for a certain amount of time, then as we age, this ability gets lost. This is the reason why older individuals have a very hard time healing, whereas young kids seem to heal overnight!

Why do we lose the ability to divide? The theory is that each time we divide, our cells have to make a new copy of DNA to go into the next cell, right? Well, each time we make a copy, we lose bits of DNA, called telomeres in the process. These telomeres protect the actual ends of the DNA, and keep it from going crazy and haywire. Because they get shorter each time a cell divides, eventually, they run out. The current theory is that THIS is what causes aging.

Think about a photocopy of a sheet of paper. In the "first generation," the original copy and the photocopy don't look very different. But if I keep photocopying the copies of paper, eventually, I begin to lose resolution, things get blurry and fuzzy, and after a long amount of time, you begin to start losing important bits of information.... signs of aging.

-Incidentally, this is also a problem that we are encountering with the cloning process. It seems that when you make a clone using "old" DNA, the organisms that come from it also seem to be "aged" as well, and can suffer complications.

Now the mechanism behind memory loss is different. In general, our brain cells and nerve cells don't divide. This is why when someone has nerve damage, it's usually permanent. There's a lot of research on nerve tissue regeneration (and a whole lot of discussion on stem cells), but right now, we're not there yet. Anyways, we retain a set number of brain cells that retain our memories. However, like the rest of our body, eventually, the "machinery" runs down, and our cells begin to die. Because we can't replace these cells, our memory starts to go away because we don't have as many brain cells as we did before.

*As a sidenote, when you drink alcohol, you kill brain cells. The theory that you get stupider the more you drink? Yup. 'fraid so.

Although another new theory has come out in regards to memory as well. The idea is that we have not necessarily lost our memory cells per se, but we have become desensitized to the things around us. We lose our awareness of the things such as routines, and therefore, do not commit them to memory like we did when we were younger. Studies have shown that when older individuals go through mental exercises to practice mental awareness, they can actually increase memory retention!

So memory loss is actually caused by two things: dead brain cells, and loss of mental awareness and acuity.

What do we do about it? Go to your nearest biotech company and present them with a big fat check to help stimulate the economy of course!

Thursday, February 5, 2009


Subject: Y. Verhoeven
Aliases: Yenny, Yentil, Mouse, Blue, Lady Blue, Blue Kunoichi

1. Able to detect natural gas leaks with just her nose
2. Able to pull something out of her frontal lobe and place it on paper, thus faking her way through 90% of the stressful situations that she is put through on a daily basis.
3. Able to find just about anything on her computer using creative search words
4. Able to cause confusion in any situation within 5 seconds of speaking
5. Makes the best ham on the planet. Hands down.

1. Shiny things that go *beep beep*
2. Cute puppies
3. Cute baby reptiles (except snakes)
4. Clothes
5. Texting. Does not have the ability nor desire to text message.

1. Her family
2. Really expensive biotech equipment
3. Good food
4. All things coffee. Strong, dissolve-the-cup type of coffee
5. A warm, comfy soft bed ^.^
6. Lightening fast internet and a laptop that can keep up
7. Open minds and great friends
8. More time

1. Wet bathroom door knobs
2. Cold
3. Escargot
4. People who shirk their own responsibilities
5. Traffic

Strange Habits
1. Eats the chocolate outside a Twix chocolate bar before consuming the caramel then finally the cookie
2. Practices extending her chi when in a crowd to keep people from invading her personal space
3. Jumps up and down on the elevator and does squats, kicks and punches when no one is around.
4. Writes about her blue haired, violet-eyed ninja alter ego on a regular basis
5. Sings at the top of her lungs when driving in the car
6. Must ALWAYS arrange the toilet paper roll so that the flappy part is on the top
7. Must have one cup of coffee every morning, or else she will destroy the universe

Monday, February 2, 2009

Napies at Work

Must find where they sell these stickers! Only... I'd end up falling face down on my keyboard I bet...

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Maryland Entomology

My first year in Maryland, I've encountered hummingbird-sized wasps, vampire mosquito hordes, and creatures that have way too many legs and move too fast for my comfort. I won't even go into the size of the spiders.

After a thorough research investigation (like bringing in a dead bug to my co-workers and asking them what the heck the thing is), here are a few insects that I have NEVER seen on the West coast but seem to thrive in the Maryland ecosystem:

1. Scutigera coleoptrata, otherwise known as the house centipede. The first time I saw one of these dashing across my basement at speeds faster than a German cockroach, I practically jumped out of my skin. Their legs are like long hairs, and they have eyes and antennae. I was so creaped out that the only thing left of it was a smudge on the wall and an indentation where I was a tad bit overzealous with my shoe.

Surprisingly, these little guys are actually quite beneficial in the house. They eat insects. What I don't like is that they inject venom through a pair of their legs, and that, although rare, it can penetrate human skin. Bleh.

2. Vespa crabro, or the European hornet, likes to hunt at night. Another insectivore, these large and very loud insects hunt yellow jackets and bees. They also like to fly into your house at night when you leave the porch light on and it takes approximately half a can of Raid and 15 minutes to kill one. It probably takes a little longer if we didn't squish it with a shoe after it falls, buzzing angrily across the wood floor. They have a nasty sting, and I'm making sure I never get to experience it! Next spring when they buzz around again, I may try smacking these 1.5 inchers with a baseball bat, but I have this fear that it'll come chasing after me.

3. Photinus pyralis, or the firefly, has become one of my most favorite insects of all time. Considering that I've never seen one until moving to Maryland, you can only imagine my childlike wonderment at seeing green and yellow glowing lights almost magically zipping around and disappearing in clumps of woods in our front yard. I remember driving home from work, almost crashing into the neighbor's car as I watched their magical dance across my lawn. First thing I did, dressed in a smart business suit and slim boots, mind you, was to jump out of my car and catch one in the garden! OMG! THEY'RE BEETLES!!! Too cool. I have to admit, both my son and I thoroughly enjoyed watching the jar full of fireflies under the covers that night. ^.^

We let them all go in the morning, of course.

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Pet Rocks

My first introduction to the pet rock was in preschool. We sat in a little circle surrounding several pet rocks set out on the floor. Our teacher told us that if we were very quiet and good, the rocks would move.

All of us remained motionless for an extremely long time, maybe even for an entire thirty seconds. Suddenly this little girl across from me yells, "Hey! I saw that one move!" Soon, the whole class is in an uproar over seeing the moving rocks. Being the little naive kid that I was, I didn't see a single one move. I squinted. I stood still. I stared. Yet despite my best efforts, the rocks didn't move for me. Naturally, not wanting to be left out, I succumbed to peer pressure and chimed in, exclaiming very proudly about the rock right in front of me moving. Deep inside though, I was hurt that the rocks did not love me.

To this day, I still have dreams about being in that darkened room with the other kids. Only in my dreams, the rocks dance around the room and talk. >.>

Pet rocks come with very simple care and maintenance instructions. No need to feed them, and they are born already potty trained. Commands such as "sit" and "stay" are almost instinctive, and with very little effort, you can even train them to attack.

I keep mine next to my vase-shaped bonsai kitty. Although they aren't the same species, at least little Puss 'n Vase doesn't get too lonely when I'm at work.