Friday, February 23, 2018

How Not to Review an Album

When I took over the journalism class (because the teacher was retiring), I was told that hopefully the counselor wouldn't add any students for those last two weeks.

Alas, she did.

Jason needed something to do, but all the articles had been assigned. So, I flailed about for something to give him. I hit upon the idea of a review, as the movie reviewer had been absent for days. But he wasn't into movies. However, he was into music.

(I've read the school newspaper. Several issues, in fact. So, I know they occasionally have an album review. It wouldn't be out of place.)

Jason wanted to review his own music. He couldn't comprehend why I would object to that.

But eventually, I got him to understand that he could review any other album by any other artist he liked.

So, for three days he worked on his review. Once he finished it, he submitted it to me.

It had the usual grammatical errors. Those I was expecting. I was also expecting that I might not have heard of the artist or the album. (I hadn't. He reviewed Huncho Jack, Jack Huncho.)

What I didn't expect is that he didn't actually review the album. He put together three paragraphs that are obviously cobbled together from that Wikipedia page I linked to. Nothing about what the album sounds like. Nothing about what he thought of it. Nothing that sounds like an album review.

He had no idea what I was talking about when I gave him back my notes.

I attempted to explain what I meant by an album review, but it was like I was speaking to him in Greek. He didn't get it. So, I searched out some examples of album reviews. I gave him a link to Rolling Stone's page of album reviews. He balked until I explained I just wanted him to take a look and use those as examples.

A couple days later he resubmitted his article to me. He had added a paragraph on the end about the music.

While I would really like to just copy and paste what he wrote, copyright and all attaches, so I won't. Suffice it to say, he wrote a sentence saying what kind of music it was, and not saying a whole lot more.

Hopefully the new journalism teacher can get a better album review out of him. I tried. I really did.

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Dropping a Mixtape

Apparently I've never written about Earvin before. Funny. He's been a thorn in my side for a while. I guess he's not done anything blog-worthy until now.

It was week two in the English 12 classes at the continuation high school. Third period was journalism. (Read: the kids that write the school paper.) Ms. M had dropped Earvin from the class before she retired to make things easier for me, but the counselor put him back in.


Earvin is one of those students who has no concept of proper behavior. Oh, he pays lip service to it, but when I actually want him to sit down and let me start class, he'll "do it in a minute". He just needs to finish whatever he's talking about right then. And that something is rarely, if ever, classroom appropriate.

On this day, Earvin was all about the rap song he had just released into the world.

He had to play it for everybody. Repeatedly.

And no matter how much I protested that it was inappropriate for school and that we had classwork to do, Earvin needed "just a minute" to "finish up".

Oh, the class was so enthusiastic about the song. They're sure he's going to be famous. And they told him how brilliant it was.

Personally, I thought the song was profanity-laced, misogynistic, violent, and rude. Of course, I'm not into rap music, and when every other word is either an f-bomb or that n-one, I'm left totally cold.

But Earvin was so proud. And he had to promote it. He needed a credit card. He asked me if he could use mine.

And then he was shocked that I wouldn't let him use it. (He only needed $5, and he was going to give me the cash.)

Some students are just so clueless...

Earvin seems to think I like him. I have no idea what gave him that impression.

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Going Over My Head

I got called into the assistant principal's office. Twice. In one day.

It was week two of the two week assignment at the continuation high school. I was covering the English 12 class. The teacher had retired.

The first time, I had sort of requested the interview. Student issue. The second time, however, took me by surprise. I was sure I was in trouble.

And I was in trouble. Sort of.

The students had complained to the assistant principal (AP) that I had been giving them too much work.

So, I told the AP exactly what I had assigned. I even emailed her copies of the all the assignments. She looped in one of the other English teachers, and I met with this other English teacher the next day to go over stuff. (I've subbed for Ms. S many, many times.)

Neither the AP nor Ms. S thought I was being unreasonable in my assignments. And it wasn't like I wasn't giving the students ample extra time to make things up.

In the course of our conversation, I mentioned to Ms. S that the AP had received complaints, and I wanted to make sure I wasn't overburdening the students. Ms. S then told me who the student was that complained...

I recognized the student's name. Because the school is so small, I know her face. But only because the school is so small. Not because I had seen her in class...

Ms. S and I had this conversation on day seven of my nine days covering this class. The student who complained? Had been absent all of those seven days. (She actually had the journalism class, too. She showed up for that class once. On a Friday. Twenty minutes late.)

Apparently the girl had asked what she missed of her fellow classmates and balked at the amount of work...


I'm not sure what she was thinking, but she hadn't spent any time discussing classwork with her classmates. That would have required effort.

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Annual Cross

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.😉

Let's go a little high concept this week. Parallel universes. (Warning: link takes you to TV Tropes. Click, and follow links, at your own risk.)

Have you heard of the concept? It's the idea that there are an infinite number of universes, called the multiverse, that diverge in small (and sometimes large) ways. It's been used in various ways in just about every sci fi TV show.

What if these parallel worlds could only intersect (so one could cross over into them) on specific days of the year (like, their orbits are completely different around the sun, and they only coincide in the same physical space, albeit in a different dimension, one day a year)? 

Monday, February 19, 2018

Evolution of the Smartphone Walking Purse

Once upon a time, I got an iPhone. It was shiny and new. And I decided it needed a cozy.

(This was less of me being a weird knitter and more about not wanting to scratch the thing as it bounced around in my purse. And I wanted an easy way to carry it around if I was just carrying it and not my whole purse.)

I used my favorite cable pattern, and it turned out really nice. I knit more, and I offered them for sale. I even wrote up the pattern and made that available.

Then I got the plus size iPhone, and I had to modify the pattern to accomodate the larger size.

I even knit these for others in the family.

So, when I was offering I'll-knit-you-what-you-want gifts for Christmas, this was requested. Since she uses it as a small purse when she goes out walking, the one I made her before gets lots of use. And this time we agreed that I should line it.

I finished the knitting on this a good month or so ago. It's taken me this long to finish lining it. And now it's done...

I do love knitting these things.

With that complete, it's time to start on super simple scarf 2. I can't knit a scarf for one twin and not the other, can I? But I will not go matchy-matchy, so this one is in a different colorway...

What projects do you have going this week?

Friday, February 16, 2018

Grading Surprise

I'm covering an English class at the continuation high school for two weeks. Their teacher retired. So, that means I have to make sure the assignments get graded and recorded. Which hasn't been too difficult since the majority of the classes aren't bothering to attempt the assignments.

On Friday I was caught up with the grading. I had returned the papers to the students. I explained that any papers that hadn't gotten over 70% weren't getting credit. (This is the policy of the school. They can redo and resubmit for credit.) Alas, the two girls who had completed the assignment had only gotten 30% correct.

One of the girls, after I had explained said, "Wait. You're grading this?"

Um, yeah. What did she expect? Why would I give an assignment and not check it for completeness and accuracy?

Deep sigh. I guess she just wanted me to give her credit for writing words on paper. But that's not how I roll.

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Not the Heat

The weather in southern California last week was pretty nice. We had chilly nights (down into the high 40s/lower 50s) and warm days (upper 70s/mid 80s).

So, about mid day I needed a bit of the air conditioner. And while the room was a bit cool in the morning, I didn't think it was that cold. I'd walk into the room being at 64 degrees. (This is Fahrenheit, in case you're reading this from outside the U.S. That's about 18 degrees Celsius.)

With student bodies, that temperature creeps up all on its own. (That and the warming day outside.) So, I didn't feel the need to turn on the heat.

But the students... Oh, they were freezing. I had to put on the heat.

(Which just seemed like a waste of time and energy to me. It wasn't that cold. And it was warming up all on its own.)

When I refused to do this, a student decided he'd turn the heat on himself. Only...

Notice how it says "cool setting"? And 83 degrees? That's overkill.

(When I took the picture, it was 69 degrees in the class. When he was messing with the thermostat, it was 66-67 degrees. And that time? Yeah, it's not set correctly. It was closer to 11 AM when I took the picture.)

He has since figured out how to put it on the heat setting. But he's still not getting it to work. Because of other issues, the HVAC is turned off at the breaker box. However, I'm not about to tell him that. No. I just told him the heater is broken. 

Cheating? Perhaps. But at least I'm not being blasted with unnecessary heat.