Friday, July 21, 2017

Too Much Time on Their Hands

It was Friday. Summer school. Modern world history. They were to finish all chapter five work. According to them, they were all done. So, they found ways to "entertain" themselves.

Inappropriate ways...

To be fair, it was only eight of them. In a class of thirty. Everyone else either worked or found something quiet to do.

At this point in the summer school (the end of the fourth week), they should be fairly used to the routine, and if they knew they'd have time, they should have brought something else to do.

But, once I got through roll (which was a challenge in and of itself), the eight of them went into play mode. I already told you about the hair clippers. And I had the usual problems of students who would not stay seated. (That is, the boy decided it would be a good idea to amble about the classroom--at least until I put a stop to that.)

One boy left to use the restroom. The others hid his backpack. (I kept an eye on them. I was expecting them to flip it.)

A couple of them got way too interested in the wall behind them. Vandalism? They found a tack. The tack now resides on the teacher's desk.

Someone was playing with a condom. At least this one remained in its wrapper. Still, they were grossed out by it, so I put it in the trash.

When they finally settled in to watch something on their phones, they couldn't just sit still. No. Everyone had to watch the same video on one phone, crowding around it. (If they're done, I don't mind them being on their phones. It mellows them out. Until they're all sharing whatever one is doing.)

I was so glad to see the end of those two hours.

As they were leaving, three girls (not of the party of eight) were a little slower getting out of the room. So, I asked them if that group was misbehaving especially for me. I was told that the group did goof off when Mr. B was there, but they were a little quieter for him.

Ah well. I wonder if they're actually passing the class this time around.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Barber Shop

Some things should go without saying. But with some students...

"Put the electric clippers away."

These students? Instead of complying, they had to double down. The boy turned the clippers on...

"Would you like me to cut your hair?"

He took no for an answer the third time. He handed the clippers back to their owner. Who then turned them on...

"Turn that off. Put it away. If you can't leave it put away I'll have to confiscate it."

Still, I watched them. These are the types of students that would then take the clippers back out because they found some sort of loophole in what I had said. Or, they'd create a loophole.

Did they really plan to shave their heads in class? Unlikely, but considering what else they got up to, I wouldn't've put it past them. (Curious about what else they got up to? Tune in tomorrow...)

For the record: yes, I could have confiscated the clippers the minute I saw them. I did not primarily because I didn't want to deal with the drama that would have inevitably followed. But if they had kept up with it, it then would have been worth it to get it out of their hands. 

Wednesday, July 19, 2017


Based on the 2000 movie, the series Frequency was about a woman communicating with her father from 20 years ago via a CB radio. I'm not sure if this is considered fantasy or sci fi.

Frequency is one of my "go to" movies. I'm a fan. If I catch it on TV, I'm pretty much watching it to the end. So, when I heard they were doing a TV version, I was in.

Sadly, I was mostly alone. Frequency was cancelled, but as with No Tomorrow, an epilogue was released in May tying up loose ends. So, while it's only a season, it is a complete season.

The premise: 20 years ago, Frank Sullivan was killed in the line of duty. (In the movie he was a firefighter. The TV show made him a cop.) Raimy Sullivan is one day messing with his old CB radio when she ends up talking to her dad. (In the movie the Raimy character was male.) From 20 years ago. Just before her father's death.

Spoiler: Frank survives. Raimy gives him enough information so that he can avoid his death. But, now Raimy's mother (who had been alive before) is gone, murdered by a serial killer. Can Raimy and Frank (working together via the CB radio, because Frank is still dead in the present) save her? And what else has changed in Raimy's world now that Frank avoided his fate?

Frequency aired on The CW, and it now appears to be streaming in the usual places like Amazon and YouTube as well as Netflix. It was 13 episodes. And that last episode (with the new epilogue) means that there are no cliffhangers or loose ends.

Have you heard of the TV version of Frequency? Have you seen the movie?

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Encoded in Our DNA

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 ;)

I stole today's question. When it popped up on Twitter, I just knew it was the question for this week.

First, the background. From the New York Times article from July 12: "Who Needs Hard Drives? Scientists Store Film Clip in DNA":
[One of the very first motion pictures ever made] is now the first movie ever to be encoded in the DNA of a living cell, where it can be retrieved at will and multiplied indefinitely as the host divides and grows. 
Since I'm stealing the question, I'll let the tweet speak for itself:
(If you have access to Twitter, check out the whole thread. There are some interesting ideas there.)

Monday, July 17, 2017


Last week (although it feels like eons ago) I posted some pyramid pillow pictures. I asked for opinions. A couple of you thought I should retake the photos and use a plain background.

I've seen that advice before. And normally I'd agree. However, with this I hesitate. There's something about this pillow that I think needs a little something more. A plain background doesn't really give a good sense of scale.

But, this is just my opinion. I could be wrong.

So, first the pillow with a plain white background.

Then, with a bit of scenery.

(These photos aren't as good as I would like. I'm working on a new computer. The photo editing software I'm used to is no longer available, so I'm in the process of figuring out what to replace it with. Please bear with me while I adjust to the new. And, if you have photo editing software that you like, I'm open to suggestions.)

Which do you prefer?

Friday, July 14, 2017

False Witness

It was the end of the period, and the kiddos were on their way out. One boy, who was in a group on one side of the room, called out to a boy on the other side.

Boy 1: "Am I in football?"

Boy 2: "Yeah."

Boy 1: "I'm in football?"

Boy 2: "Yes. I mean no. No, you're not. I thought you wanted me to lie for you..."

Now we all know who to call if we suddenly need an alibi witness...

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Rules of the Game

Yup, another day in summer school...

11th grade English. Some of them were doing more talking than working. For the third time, I went over to insert myself into the conversation. I asked, "How's the work going?"

The group was centered around Terrence...

Yes, I do mean Terrence from the continuation high school. And no, I was not at the continuation high school.

The continuation high school is closed until August. But they allow their students to go back to their "home" schools to attend summer school where they can earn up to 15 credits. I was at the continuation high school when they were signing up for summer school, so I was not surprised to run into some of them. Although, I would have thought Terrence wouldn't attend.

You should have seen the look on Terrence's face when he walked into class and saw me. Oh, and he was late...

Anyway, I was hovering, hoping that Terrence would do some work. He brought up the "Flipping Starbursts" incident.

"Didn't you call that 'Rolling Starbursts'?" I asked.

Terrence regaled the class with tales of how mad Mr. J was the next day...

"You told me he didn't care," I reminded him. He said Mr. J wouldn't care at the time, and when I saw him next, he said he hadn't gotten into trouble over the incident.

Then the group (all non-continuation high school students) wanted to know all about this game. And considering I was curious, too, I listened in.

They each started with two or three Starbursts. The player would toss one. If it landed opening side (where the paper folds over, so where you go to get at the candy) down, he'd win another Starburst. If it landed opening side up, he lost his Starburst. Terrence said by the end they'd all ended up with 10 or more Starbursts.

(There were only four in the game, so they must have replenished when someone lost.)

Terrence did turn in work, although it looked sloppily done. Ah well. At least I wasn't the enemy this time.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017


This British import takes place in a near future where human-looking robots/androids (synths) have become ubiquitous. These synths do the kinds of jobs you'd expect (dangerous mining) and some of you might not (child and elder care). But they're just programmed machines.

Or are they?

The TV show Humans finished its season two just this spring (winter?), and while looking up links for this post I learned that a season three is planned.

(At this point I'd tell you where you can stream this, but I'm having computer/internet issues at the moment. Let's just say that getting around online has been quite a challenge for the last week or so. So, I broke down and bought a new computer. It was way past time. It should arrive by the weekend. If anyone knows where to stream Humans, please feel free to mention it in the comments.)

Our main characters are a band of renegade synths that seem to have a conscious will, but they were being hunted. And, there's a family of humans. Of course the two groups intersect, which leads to some interesting conflicts.

Anita/Mia is bought by the family after she's been captured and reprogrammed. Niska is also captured, but she isn't so lucky. She's sent to work as a prostitute. (This show has some adult scenes, so keep the kiddos away.)

What happens to the two of them, the family that owns Anita/Mia, and the other synths in the renegade group is the overarching story for season one. Season two picks up a bit after season one left off. And it adds a couple new dimensions to the story.

If you like sci fi, especially sci fi that could be our world, you'll probably enjoy this show. I would recommend getting to the beginning, though, for there's a lot of story to keep up with, and it'll be hard to jump in the middle. It aired on AMC in the U.S., but I did not see access to it on my cable's OnDemand. (Normally I'd include a link to AMC, but unfortunately, internet... It's the same channel that airs The Walking Dead.)

Have you heard of Humans? Have you seen any episodes?

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Intelligent Machines

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 assume that we're living in an age where android technology has progressed to such a point that we have human-looking machines to help us with our everyday lives. Or we're telling a story set in a future where robots are a part of the society.

These machines have been built by humans. They've been programmed by humans. They do the mundane jobs we don't want to do and/or they do the dangerous jobs that we can't do.

What if we could give these machines the ability to reason and think for themselves? Would you allow your android/robot to become self aware?

Monday, July 10, 2017

Photo Session

I struggle with photos. Getting the right view of my knits can be hard. I have a big issue with them getting enough light. So, I snap a bunch of pics. Then I load them on the computer, and meh.

The pictures I have for my pyramid pillow pattern (the one that props devices so one doesn't have to hold them) are in serious need of updating. Of course, I no longer had the model, so first I had to make another. And last week I finally got around to taking some pictures.

Today, I'm asking for your opinions. Which pictures do you like better? Or, should I start over and retake them all?

Side View 1

Side View 2

Front View 1

Front View 2

Back View 1

Back View 2

Top View 1

Top View 2

Help. Are these good enough? Should I start over? Do I need a more interesting background? A plainer background? (I'm working on getting them lit better.) Any constructive criticism would be greatly appreciated.

Friday, July 7, 2017

Finish the Band Names

Alex, I think this one's for you.

It's Thursday afternoon. This is way late for me to be writing my Friday blog post, but I've been having computer issues, and I was unable to find a good quiz for today. Until this one popped up on my Facebook feed.

Finish These Band Names

I had not heard of six of them. Googling helped. (Not that I'm advocating cheating... ;) ) 

A couple things to keep in mind. First, you can type the names in any order. It'll match the name to the band, so you can skip around without "previous" or "forward" buttons. Second, you do have to spell it correctly. One letter off, and it won't take it. Third, you don't need to hit "enter" or anything. As soon as you finish typing the word it takes it (you don't even need to hit the space bar). 

How many of these bands have you not heard of? Or are you a music expert and you are familiar with all of them? 

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Bad Choices

The lesson plan warned that the Earth science classes were "immature". That's putting it mildly...

The teacher had left enough work to fill up the two-hour summer school block easily. Most decided not to even attempt it. A couple said that it was "too much work". So, instead...
  • I explained to one boy that using his external phone speaker was not appropriate for class. He was broadcasting some video for him and his friend, and the whole class could hear.
  • One girl explained to her seat partner how to "see" their auras. Then she looked up what those colors meant. 
  • One girl danced over in the corner. When I explained that dancing in class was not appropriate, she questioned me as to why. 
  • Two boys sniped at each other, one calling the other "rat" and the other calling the first boy "whale". Among other insults. 
And that's not even including how attached to their phones these kiddos were. I'd swear some would have to have them surgically detached the way they seemed to be attached to their hands. 

I should not have been surprised. These students are a select subset of the population. In order, they 
  1. Failed (or got a D) in 8th grade science. (If they had gotten a C or better, they would have taken biology in 9th grade.) And,
  2. Failed 9th grade Earth science. I know this because they are now in summer school for it.
You'd think they'd wake up and realize there's a problem, but they aren't self-aware enough for that yet. 

Anyway, towards the end of the day I got to perusing the class rosters. And I burst out laughing. (I didn't bother to hide it. They weren't paying me any attention.)

I was looking at the students who had been dropped from the class. (If they are absent three times, they get dropped from summer school. Period.) And one name popped out at me immediately. 

Blaine. (I also wrote about him here and here.)


I'm not surprised that he failed Earth science. And I'm not surprised he stopped coming to summer school. 

I have a feeling I'll be seeing him at the continuation high school in the not too distant future.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017


Health. I'd covered for this teacher last year during the last two weeks of summer school, so I kind of knew what I was getting into.

For the last four hours, I had the same group. (They missed taking health during the school year. Many of them because they'd taken an AP class instead. Which means they were a pretty good group, especially for summer school.)

They were studying the chapter on nutrition. They had vocabulary, a chapter outline, a food collage, and chapter review questions.

Unfortunately, that was enough work for only 3 hours...

Luckily, the teacher had left his laptop. (Their vocab terms and journal topic needed to be projected.) I know how to kill 45ish minutes. YouTube!

Yeah, it's cheating. But they're freshmen (going to be sophomores in September), and you never want to give freshmen free time. It doesn't go well. Not even for these kiddos, the more academically inclined (and better behaved) of the class.

Ever search "nutrients" on YouTube? Turns out (once I ignored the videos on pot) that there are some decent on topic short videos that I could play.

They hated this, of course. They would have rather sat around and talked and watched videos on their phones. But considering how loud they were already getting, and from past experience, I knew I needed something...

They only seemed to enjoy one video. Mostly, they were making fun of it. But no matter.

I'll take laughter at the video over a wild party atmosphere (for 45ish minutes) any day. (This video was only about 5 minutes.)

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

In the Cult

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 your very good friend got sucked in by a cult, but that friend doesn't realize it?

Monday, July 3, 2017


I have a few projects on the needles/hook. Unfortunately, they aren't of the interesting variety.

In the finished file...

In case you don't recognize it, it holds my ereader...

And the only reason I made it is because I want to update my pattern photos. Because they suck, and have sucked for a long time. Now I just need to figure out a good background and hopefully get some good shots of it.

The next thing on the needles is just a swatch at the moment...

The pattern is called Mermaid Mesh. It's for something for my in person selling booth, and when I have that finished, I'll show you. Hopefully, it'll turn out as I envision it.

And finally...

This is just a simple crocheted lattice thing. Which was made to do the same job as the Mermaid Mesh thing. I've changed my mind, and this might no longer be needed. We'll see.

I suppose I should pull out Halloween patterns. (I want to make myself an orange mask.) Now would be a good time to start Christmas knitting. But I'm just not feeling it.

So when I start panicking about not having enough time to finish something, you all can point me back to this post. Because that will be all my own doing.

Friday, June 30, 2017


For my random quiz this week, you're asked for a name that goes along with three that you're given. So, for example (something not in the quiz), if you were given "Beatrix, Harry, and Carol", your answer would be "Potter".

A few tips first. You can totally skip things and come back to them. Just hit the "prev" or "next" arrows. The name given can be a first or last name, or it might be a combo. That is, it might be the first name for one but a last name for another in the same list.

Pick the Name That Best Fits the Given Words

Good luck. Let me know how you did in the comments. 

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Slipping Out

I was not expecting that phone call, but how could I pass up another day of subbing?

Summer school started last Wednesday. On Friday morning I was called to cover a world history class. All day. 10th and 11th graders who hadn't passed the class the first time. Three classes in two hour blocks.

Mr. B had them working at their own pace on stuff from chapter 2. Some finished. Some did a lot of staring at walls or talking to friends. (At that rate, some of them aren't going to pass it this summer, either.) The class time passed, I called for them to pack up, and they lined up by the door.

(I'm not a fan of the lining up at the door thing. In fact, I discourage it whenever possible. In this case, I was ignored.)

The student nearest the door opened it...

"Close the door. It's not time to go yet."

Oh, but they'd been there long enough. And all it takes is one to slip out...

The first block didn't pull this stunt. But both the second and third blocks did. *rolls eyes*

The second block's excuse: "The bell already rang..."

My reply: "No, it didn't."

Half the class had shuffled out when... wait for it... the bell rang. Clear as day. Ahem.

The third block's excuse: "The bells don't work."

Funny. I heard a bell for the beginning and end of the first block and the second block. And there was a beginning bell for the third block. Explain to me how "the bells aren't working".

This time only about five got out of the room when... you guessed it... the bell rang.

As this is one of my big pet peeves, I made sure the teacher knew what they pulled. Whether he'll do something about it...

(It's summer school. After two hours, some teachers let them out a bit early to be nice.)

And, considering that they're stuck taking summer school, I think they're already getting a consequence for their own bad behavior.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

No Tomorrow

The idea behind doing posts about TV shows that you might have missed started with No Tomorrow. The show got practically no press coverage even though it was cute, quirky, and a little odd. Sadly but unsurprisingly, the CW cancelled it after one season. But it's still available on Netflix, and if you need 13 hours of something to watch, this is well worth your time.

Xavier (with the X pronounced like a Z) discovered that an asteroid is on a collision course with Earth, and it will hit in about 8 months. After exhausting every possible way of getting the information out there (and being blocked at every turn), he's decided that if these are his last days on Earth, he's going to get the most he can out of them.

But the series is not about Xavier. It's actually about Evie. Evie is one of those spunky heroines that TV loves to trot out. She works in a place that's kind of a cross between Wal-Mart and Amazon. She has the requisite odd coworkers. Her sister and parents make an appearance. (Ted McGinley!) Plus her ex-boyfriend is also a regular cast member. (How many shows can say that?)

Evie meets Xavier, and while she thinks the whole asteroid thing is crazy, she's good with making lists, so she makes her own bucket list to go along with Xavier's. And while the show is ostensibly about them crossing things off those lists, it's actually more about Evie and her world.

And I'm not even hitting on what happens on the show. It's silly. It's sweet. It's upbeat. (Yes, it's an upbeat show where a main character is expecting the world to end in 8 months.) And it's a nice, light hour-long dramedy.

Strangely enough, I didn't want to watch it at the beginning. I started recording it, but it collected on my DVR for 7 or 8 episodes before I finally started watching. (It was around December, and I was caught up on all my other shows.) I was caught up within a week. And I was on top of the remaining episodes as they aired.

I was not surprised that it got cancelled. But I was pleasantly surprised when at the announcement of its cancellation, a bonus epilogue was released. They had ended on a cliffhanger (which I thought stupid at the time as I was pretty sure the show was doomed) that I was certain would never be resolved. But those added couple minutes tied up the loose ends, and now the show feels like a self-contained thing.

So, with the regular season's shows all gone for the summer, if you need something to watch, here's a little something to keep you entertained.

Have you seen No Tomorrow already? Had you heard of it before this?

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Knowing the Sun

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 sun is sentient? 

Friday, June 23, 2017

The School Year by the Numbers

It's that time of year again, where I go back into my files and tally up what classes I covered this year. It was a pretty busy year.

Of the 180 school days, I worked 163. This is up two days over last year. This number does not include the days I worked for summer school (12 four hour days) nor the days I worked at the continuation high school in August before the school year officially began (7 days).

Of those 163 days, I didn't get a prep period for 78 of them. On 64 days I covered an extra period, while on 14 days, the teacher I covered didn't have a prep period.

77 of those days I covered high school classes, 42 of those days I was covering middle school, and 30 of those days I was at the continuation high school. It's interesting how year after year, the percentage of each stays roughly the same.

I didn't work the first day of school nor the last. But, I covered the second day of school and the penultimate day of school, which is kind of unusual for me.

More specifically:
  • English: 55 days and 8 extra periods
    • This year's winner: 11th grade with 21 days and 4 single periods. 
      • I count a "full day" when the teacher has at least 2 periods of that level. A "single period" means the teacher has a different level the whole day, or I covered it on the prep period. 
    • Runner up is 12th grade with 15 days plus 8 single periods.
    • In 3rd place is advanced ELD with 8 full days plus 14 single periods.
    • Then 9th grade with 9 days/4 single periods; 10th grade with 7 days/6 single periods; intermediate ELD with 6 days/1 single period; 7th grade with 5 days/1 single period; 8th grade with 3 days/3 single periods; and beginning ELD with 1 single period
  • Science: 41 days and 13 extra periods
    • This year's winner: 7th grade life science with 16 days and 2 single periods
    • Runner up is Earth science with 15 days and 1 extra period. This is not surprising as most of those days were that one class I covered before and after winter break.
    • Then: biology with 13 days/4 single periods; health with 9 days/4 single periods; intro to health careers with 6 days; forensics/criminalistics with 5 days/2 single periods; environmental science with 4 days/4 single periods; chemistry and physics both with 2 days; and 8th grade physical science with 1 day/5 single periods. 
    • (Wait, one day of 8th grade science? That has to be a record. I'm usually in those classes quite a bit more.)
  • Social Studies: 30 days and 10 extra periods
    • This year's winner: 11th grade U.S. history with 10 days and 1 single period
    • Runner up is 12th grade economics with 8 days.
    • Third place is a tie of 7 days for both 7th grade world history and 8th grade U.S. history.
    • Then 12th grade government with 6 days/3 single periods; 10th grade world history with 4 days/2 single periods; 9th grade geography with 3 days; and the continuation high school's orientation at 3 days/1 single period
  • Math: 32 days and 10 extra periods
    • This year's winner: Integrated Math I (which replaced algebra 1) with 18 days and 5 single periods
    • Runner up is Integrated Math II (which replaced geometry) with 11 days and 6 single periods
    • Then 7th grade math with 6 days/1 single period; algebra 2 with 4 days/5 single periods; 8th grade math with 3 days/4 single periods; and business math with 3 days/1 single period
  • Special Education: 16 days and 21 extra periods
    • Note: These days overlap with the above numbers as I would cover something like a special ed. biology class. Or, I'd be a co teacher for 7th grade math. 
    • Of those days, 7 days/8 single periods were RSP (as in, co teacher); 5 days/9 single periods were in SDC (or self-contained special ed.); and 3 days/4 single periods with classes that were... pretty low academics wise.
  • Miscellany: 
    • 3 single periods ASB
    • 8 single periods school newspaper (both at the continuation high school and the traditional high school)
    • Art: 4 days/2 single periods
    • One single period of theater, two single periods of choir, and one single period of music appreciation. (Kinda grateful that I didn't have any middle school band horror stories this year.)
    • Two single periods of sports (I think they were both golf this year) and one period of P.E.
    • Spanish: 1 day/2 single periods
    • Business and/or computers: 5 days/3 single periods
    • And one period of "roving" where I covered two different classes in one period. (I was supposed to cover three classes, but the other two teachers took too long.)
Looking back at this, it's funny what I do remember and what I don't. I guess that's why I write the blog.

I cherry pick the stories I use. I go for "interesting". So, it may seem like the kiddos are wild, do no work, or aren't learning anything. But as you can see from the above, I worked far more days than I mentioned on this blog. Those are the days where everything goes right, the kiddos behave well, and progress towards educational goals are met.

This is a yearly reminder that the educational system isn't so bleak, and kids today are much like kids of the past.

Happy summer.

Previous years' stats:

Thursday, June 22, 2017


For the penultimate day of school, I was once again at the continuation high school. (I did not work the last day of school this year.) The kiddos had an assignment, but very few of them chose to do it. In fact, very few of them chose to come to school at all.

(I think this is why the traditional high schools give students finals. It keeps them coming to class and makes them try for those last few days.)

I was basically on crowd control. Well, if you consider a class of seven to be a "crowd".

2nd period. I pointed out the assignment. A couple of them even got out books and paper.

"Remember when you pulled that knife on me? I wanted them to expel you for that."

This is not the sort of statement that is usually accompanied with laughter. But there was no anger in Julio's voice. He seemed to be in instigating mode. Waiting to see if I'd have to intervene, I just listened in.

"You stole my pizza," Daniel replied.

This is when Julio noticed that I was listening, so he explained.

Back when the boys were in middle school, they were in home ec. together. One day the assignment was pizza. They cooked it. At the end of the period, they each got a slice.

You know when you take a slice of pizza how sometimes a bit of the tip of an adjoining piece gets stuck to it? Julio's slice had a bit of Daniel's slice's tip attached.

So, Daniel demanded that Julio give him back that little bit of pizza. Julio refused. Daniel grabbed a butter knife and held it to Julio's ribs...

They didn't tell me what happened after that. Apparently the teacher called for backup as it sounds like the issue got resolved with school administrators.

"If I could forgive you for that..." Julio said to Daniel.

Apparently, this is one of those funny stories that they like to remember. At least they can laugh about it. If they were still angry at each other...

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Self Referential

7th grade world history. It was the last Monday of the school year. The students had a study guide for their final (which was going to be Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday, depending on which period class it was).

The day went pretty well. I had the usual issues with fidget spinners or slime, but most of the students were actually finding answers and getting ready for their final.

As I always do, I let the class know that if they were having difficulty with any of the assignment, they could ask me. (That's my job, after all.) Some even took me up on my offer.

One boy 'round about 4th period pointed out the question he couldn't find the answer to:
What do we call the scientific laws that describe how objects move in space? 
It took me a moment longer than it should have, really. But once it hit me...

Because, yeah, I know the answer to that question. And I don't even have to look it up.

I chuckled as I scanned the boy's book to point out the answer. I would have loved to explain to him why I found this so funny, but he wouldn't have gotten it.

But you will.

Don't know the answer? It's right here on this page. Scroll up. Keep going. See those words right at the top of the page? In white on a purple background? Yes, I'm talking about the title of my blog...

Some days the jokes are just for me.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Take a Second Shot?

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 ;)

Last week I pulled a question from the last three episodes of this season's Legends of Tomorrow. (If you weren't here last week, make sure to check that out first.) The setup had me shaking my head and yelling at the TV. But it was their bad choice that leads to this week's question.

Even though they had a time machine, the heroes chose to brave a battlefield in the middle of a battle (during World War I) to dig up... Well, what they needed is rather irrelevant to this discussion. They somehow managed to get to the item, blasted the area (they had no time to dig), and made off with the item only to have a stray bullet hit it and destroy it.

This MacGuffin was the only one of its kind. Bad guys win, right? Or...

What if the item you went back in time to retrieve got destroyed in the retrieval? Is it gone, or can you think of another way to get at it? (And keep in mind, you've already gone to get it, so your past self must find something.) 

Monday, June 19, 2017

I Couldn't Resist

A few weeks ago, the designer of the jellyfish published a new pattern. She posts new patterns to her blog fairly often, but this was the first one in a while that made me say, "I have to make that". 

I have absolutely no use for it. But when I saw it, I just couldn't resist. 

It's a unicorn gift card holder. And I finally finished it this past week. 

Don't see a gift card? Well, open the arms...

It wasn't terribly hard, but there were a lot of pieces that needed to be sewn together. And the rainbow mane had to be knotted on strand by strand. (That makes it sound like it was a lot more work than it was, but there was a bit of assembly involved.) 

Several members of my family should consider themselves lucky that I didn't finish this thing sooner. They might have ended up with it. (I was soooo tempted to give it to my father for Father's Day--he got a gift card for movie tickets--but I restrained myself.) And as the next birthday in the family is mine... 

I'm probably going to put this up for sale. Although, I may just want to look at it for a while. 

Friday, June 16, 2017

Accommodations for a Final

For the penultimate week of school I covered a special ed. health and biology class.

(Yes, the last day of school was yesterday. I write all my posts for the week at once, so you're always reading about what I did last week.)

As they had finals the following week, they spent the week I was with them working on a "study guide".

The teacher and instructional aide (IA) had honed this study guide over several finals that they'd given their classes. (The IA was with me for the entire week, so basically she did all the "work" and I sat around and looked "official".) The IA explained what they were doing to me.

Each student was given the actual final along with the "study guide". While in class (they weren't allowed to take it out of the room) they were to look up where to find each answer in the book (the final was open book) and note down what chapter, what page, what paragraph, and what sentence each answer could could be found in. (They were given what chapter.)

Easy, right? But remember, this was a special ed. class. It took some of them all week. Although, to be fair, it took all week for the students who spent most of their time staring at walls rather than looking for the answers for their final.

Deep sigh.

And the IA told me that even with this help, no student gets 100% on their finals.

Ah well, it turned out to be an easy week for me. (Even with Asia in one of the periods.)

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Graduation Daydream

Nine years ago now it was. 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.

And the cycle begins again. Happy end of the school year.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Coming Attractions

Welcome to the end of the school year. For those of you keeping track, our school year ends tomorrow.

At the end of each school year, I have a little ritual. First, I repost my "Graduation Daydream". This I will do tomorrow to commemorate the last day of school. And then I'll do my annual "Year End Stats" post where I tally up all the different classes I covered.

But, I have been working, and I'll have classes up until practically the end, so before I go on "summer schedule", I'll have a few more subbing posts. Last week I covered one special ed. class for the whole week. And this week so far I have three days scheduled. There are more stories to tell before I completely close out the school year.

(Yeah, that gif has nothing to do with anything. It just made me laugh.)

As for my "summer schedule", it's my actual schedule (which is posted in my About Me page) minus the subbing stories.

I will continue to update the "Student Name of the Week". What? You didn't notice my newish little project on the sidebar? Just look over to the right. It's under "Twitter" and above "Subscribe To". (Kind of between those last two gifs.) I started this a few months ago, and the explanation and full list of names already featured are on the "Student Name of the Week" page, which has a link at the top of the blog. The list of names I have currently will safely see me through the summer (and through the end of the year and into next year if that were to become necessary).

But the real reason I'm writing this particular post has to do with a question I have for my regular readers. I was contemplating adding a random TV show post one day a week, but before I begin this, I was curious if there's any interest.

A few years ago, I tried doing a random movie post one day a week. I didn't keep it up as I wasn't finding the right sort of random movies that would fit. But I got to thinking that there are a few TV shows that I watch that no one has heard of, and it might be interesting for me to tell you about them. Especially with streaming abilities and summer. Some of you might be looking for some different things to watch.

I used to do my random movie posts on Fridays, but then I replaced them with my random quiz Fridays. So, my second question is, if I do the TV posts, would you like to see them on Fridays? Or Wednesdays? (Because at the moment, while I do have an official topic for Wednesdays, I don't actually do that topic ever. In fact, I usually just skip Wednesdays entirely in the summer.)

I appreciate any opinions on the topic. I hope you'll stop in tomorrow for the "Graduation Daydream" and next week for my "Year End Stats" (spoiler: I worked more days this year than last). And I hope you'll continue to stop in all summer. I'll try to keep it interesting.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Getting It First

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 ;)

Today's question was prompted by the TV show Legends of Tomorrow. It finale'd in April, but the last three episodes have been sitting on my DVR until about a week ago.

The show annoys me. I've given it up a couple times. Then the other shows that I actually like go off the air for a bit, and I decide to give this show one more chance. This time I figured it was only three more shows and I'd be caught up for the season.

So, this week I'm going to borrow their premise and see what you make of it.

The setup: All season our protagonists have been trying to prevent the antagonists from acquiring a MacGuffin that'll destroy the world (rewrite reality--same difference). It's been hidden throughout time... Did I mention they have a time machine?

They've gone back in time to acquire... well, what it is really doesn't matter... this item will help keep the MacGuffin safe from the bad guys. They found an expert to help them find this item, so now they know where it's buried.

Unfortunately, the item they need is buried in the middle of a battlefield. And the antagonists are after it, too.

Which leads to today's what if. (To make a long story short too late!)

What if you needed to acquire an item that would help you "save the world"? You've gone back in time (in your time machine) to find an expert to help you locate it. Unfortunately, the item is buried in the middle of what is currently a battlefield. (The item was buried there in the Middle Ages.) How do you get this item before the bad guys can get to it? 

Friday, June 9, 2017

Enemy Sub

Remember the boy from "Rolling Starbursts"? He remembers me. Unfortunately.

Seventh period math at the continuation high school. The bell rang. Then Terrence walked in.

"Are you going to mark me tardy?"

Well, of course.

"But I had to walk by the basketball courts..."

The continuation high school is not large. They have a four minute passing period. You can make it from the office to the classroom I was in (the farthest anyone ever has to travel) in about a minute. (Which I had to do earlier that same day.) So, there's really no excuse to be late.

Ah, but now I'm the enemy, so Terrence refused to do any work. And he was still angry that I told his science teacher about his game. (I asked if he had gotten into trouble. He admitted that he hadn't. So, why this animosity?)

As I was leaving for the day, I mentioned the tardy thing to the secretary. (It was an "isn't this funny" incident that I couldn't not share.) "I guess Terrence hates me."

Her reply: "There aren't very many people Terrence does like."

Oh. Suddenly Terrence's behavior makes a whole lot more sense. (And since I'm likely to forget all about this until I see Terrence again and he reminds me, as he had to remind me of the "Rolling Starbursts" as I hadn't remembered it was him until he said something, this won't trouble me too much.)

Note: If you live in Alaska, West Virginia, Nevada, Arizona, Maine, Louisiana, Tennessee, Ohio, Colorado, South Carolina, Arkansas, or Pennsylvania and are against the ACHA (and seriously, this is one bad bill; it will hurt everyone), would you take a moment and call your Senator(s)? Please. If you're not sure why or what to do, take a look at this post for links. 

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Worst of the Worst

I had been warned about 6th period. While the rest of the day was 8th grade math, period 6 was the "support & enrichment" class (read: the extra math class for students who hate math). I kinda knew what I was in for even before they arrived.

In a class of the difficult, table 1 stood out. Jacob and Elijah were just that little bit of extra crazy. Let me see if I can recall their shenanigans:

  • Confiscated a Tech Deck from Jacob
  • Removed a girl from table 1 as she and Jacob were having a loud argument (something about each being racist against the other)
  • Prevented Elijah from writing on Jacob's forehead in marker
  • Only then discovering that they had written Slipknot on each other's arms
  • Asked them to stop pounding on table and stomping in rhythm: "This is not a Queen concert or a basketball game"
  • Argued with Elijah about whether he was the son of a Kiss band member (who he would not name to prove his assertion)

Would you be shocked if I told you they got no work done?

Even with that list, I did not spend the period hovering over the boys. There was plenty of other crazy to contain, although not as crazy as Jacob and Elijah, of course. 

A little over halfway through the period, I was on the other side of the room. Everybody's attention was drawn to Elijah throwing his arms in the air as Jacob... (Don't ask. I have no idea.) 

The boys at table 8 (where I was at that moment) looked at Jacob and Elijah in disgust. (Keep in mind that they were loud in their own right.) 

"You need to write their names down." 

(Name in note can be a serious consequence. In the case of this class, the teacher had specified that she wanted names taken, with a likely outcome that names in the note got severe consequences.) 

I laughed. "I wrote their names down a half hour ago," I told the boys.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

The Missing Class

Continuation high school journalism class. (Yes, they have a school newspaper.) It's the end of the year, so the class only had four students. (One was absent.)

The continuation high school works on credits. Once they've earned the required 220, they are done. By this time of year, most of the seniors have completed high school.

It was newspaper delivery day. Two students were to go pass them out to all the classes. One of the assigned students was absent, so I let the other student pick her partner. But all three girls wanted to go. And the boy wanted to join them...

What's the harm, right?

Five minutes later I got a call from another teacher. They were being disruptive. (Naturally...)

Well, they should have come back soon, so I could scold them. I waited.

And waited.

And waited.


I went to the door looking for them. They were not visible on campus. (The campus is small enough that I could see all of it from my door.) But the principal spotted me.

The girls did eventually return. The boy returned some time after them. (This is the way subs get into trouble.) What happened? They explained that several of the papers had been stapled badly, so they had to fix.

The boy...? He was taking advantage of the situation. Naturally.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Just a Watcher

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, but the traveler couldn't interact in the time? That is, a person could see, hear, touch, and smell the world, but no one from that time could perceive the traveler. What if time travel was like a holographic projection that one could only watch?

Monday, June 5, 2017

Covering It with Yarn

I got the idea Wednesday night. Friday night I attempted it. And managed to complete it in about two hours. (That included a bit of swatching to get the measurements right.)

Can you tell what it is? Probably not as it's something I made up. Does this help?

You can kind of see what's in there, if you're looking closely. So, let me take it out...

Why would I made a cozy for a fidget spinner? Remember when I told you all about the hot new teen fad? Well, it's gotten to the point of annoyance. Turns out these things aren't so silent, especially not in a silent classroom.

It's not surprising that the things have invaded my subconscious since they've become ubiquitous.

Once I turned my brain on the problem, it didn't take me too long to work out how to cover it. And it even spins while it's encased in the cozy...

A post shared by Liz A. (@zizirho) on

I'm going to tweak the pattern a bit before I write it up. If I write it up. I think my curiosity is now sated.

Friday, June 2, 2017

No Hablo Ingles

I was covering two days of a U.S. history class. As they were juniors and Ms. G's classes tend to be on the good side, I wasn't too concerned when a few students gathered together while they did their work.

Of course, I made a point of going over to them and looking over their shoulders. And they explained their grouping.

"Kevin needs our help. He doesn't speak any English."

Hmmm. Now I'm suspicious. There are some students at that school that don't speak any English, but usually the teachers give me a heads up (and they give the student an alternative assignment or the student has a "helper"). But why volunteer that information so readily? I hadn't asked.

Plus, the boys were having way too much fun in their little group.

Day two in the class. I was a little stricter with them, but the boys still found their little group. A couple of them went out to the restroom. When one of the boys returned, he stood over another boy, and it was clear something was going on. So, I approached.

The boy sat down. He pulled out his backpack, and then I saw that it had been flipped. So, now I understood why he was upset. I gave the other boy my best "really?" look. I growled at them to get back to work (and stop messing with each other).

It was only after I left the group that it hit me. The boy who had been upset? Was Kevin. Who supposedly doesn't speak any English.

Funny how we were able to communicate pretty readily in English when he asked to use the restroom and when he returned and we discussed his backpack.

This is why I am dubious when I am told a student doesn't speak any English. Because they lie.

But luckily they are really, really bad at this lying thing.

Thursday, June 1, 2017

The Conservative Tide

I don't talk politics on this blog. (I save that for Talking It Out.) And while I'm not going to start today, I do feel I need to preface today's post with a nod to my bias.

I'm a liberal. (You all already know that, right?) Which is why I found this so funny.

11th grade U.S. history. They were to do a guided reading (read: worksheet) on a section entitled "A Conservative Movement Emerges" about the '80s and Reagan and Bush Sr.

As they turned in their work, I glanced at it. And then I took a closer look.

The question (if it's too small to read, click on the image to blow it up):

And their responses:

As you can see, they "worked together". And it's pretty obvious they didn't read the chapter carefully (or at all, probably). They may have looked it up on their phones.

Still, it gave me a good chuckle.

And I made sure my instructions to the next class were a little clearer. As in READ THE CHAPTER. (You'd think this goes without saying, but apparently not when they want to get done so they can goof off.)

Oh, and the teacher is a conservative. So, when their papers are graded...