Thursday, November 23, 2017

A Wonky Turkey Day

Happy Thanksgiving.

For #ThrowbackThursday, I'm revisiting a post from November 18, 2010. It was Turkey Day at the continuation high school. Turkey Day takes place the Thursday before Thanksgiving. They serve all the students and many in the district a turkey lunch (although it's served between 9:45 AM and noon). I managed to make it to the school this year (I've missed the last two), but alas, nothing blog-worthy happened. 

It's that time of year again. Today was Turkey Day at the continuation high school.

The administration puts on a school-wide movie to entertain the students while we wait to be called. The TV in the classroom has to be hooked up to the in-school "network" for us to be able to see it. When I finished showing 1st period a video in the VCR, I had to switch the cable so that instead of connecting to the VCR, it connected to the in-school "network".

It's harder to explain than to do. When the teacher told me that he was going to send over the school's tech guy to do it, I told him that I could manage. I did. Unfortunately, there was some interference in the picture.

The students were annoyed by this (we could see the movie, it just wasn't completely clear). They wanted it fixed, so I called the office.

I told them: "The picture is a bit wonky. Could someone come and take a look?"

Michelle thought my word choice funny. She had never heard the word "wonky" before. She wondered if it was a real word.

I was startled. She'd never heard "wonky" before? I understand when these students haven't heard long academic words before, but "wonky"?

I spelled the word for her. Told her that it was indeed a real word. She took my word for it.

The tech guy did come, and rather quickly too. However, the problem righted itself just before he got to class, so he wasn't needed.

(This wasn't my first Turkey Day. I blogged about previous years here and here.)

It's amazing how the technology has changed in just seven years. The classrooms no longer have TVs. Instead, each classroom has a projector that connects to a computer. The "in-school network" is no more. If the school wants something shown to each class, they email the video clip to the teachers, and the teachers can play the video clip on the projector at their convenience. 

And they no longer house the students in one classroom for the day. Instead, they have the students go to each of their classes in the morning, and they call out groups of 30. The newer method works a whole lot better.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

The Brave

The schools have taken the whole of Thanksgiving week off, so it's back to the "summer schedule" for the week. Wednesday is the day I talk about a TV show that you've probably not heard of.

I've been attempting to figure out an obscure show I've been watching recently, and I can't come up with a thing. Because, I've just been barely keeping up with the network shows since the fall TV season began. In fact, there are three shows that I'm recording and storing for when all the shows go off the air in December.

So, instead of a show you've not heard of, I'm going to talk about a new fall show I've been enjoying. It's called The Brave, and it's on NBC.

Via Google:
In the dark and complex world of America's elite undercover military heroes, Defense Intelligence Agency Deputy Director Patricia Campbell and her team of analysts wield the world's most advanced surveillance technology from headquarters in D.C. All the while, Adam Dalton and his heroic Special Ops squad of highly trained undercover specialists use their unbreakable bond and commitment to freedom to save lives of innocent people and execute missions in some of the most dangerous places in the world.
The reviews aren't good. And I didn't want to like this show. I recorded it primarily because it started before all the other shows this season started. And then I got sucked in.

Each episode is exciting. The stakes are clear. The Special Ops team has a difficult goal to accomplish, and they fight like hell to make it happen. They're in some exotic locale, and the odds are stacked against them. But somehow, they manage to make it through successfully.

It's one of those shows that you don't need to know a lot going in. And apparently no one is watching. It looks like no new episodes are going to be ordered, which means that this show is all but cancelled at this point. However, as there isn't a lot of backstory, it's one of those shows that you can watch when you're looking for something exciting to fill the time during this holiday season.

Here's the trailer:

That's pretty much the first episode. You can find the rest of the aired episodes on NBC's website.

Have you seen The Brave? Are there any new fall shows you've been enjoying?

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Careful What You Wish For

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 every lie you told last week came true this week?

Monday, November 20, 2017


Last week I wrote up a list of stuff I needed to be working on rather than that mini backpack. I'm happy to note that I got much of that list done.

I was able to complete those two unicorn gift card holders...

(And now I have to make another, but that's a different story.)

I did finish the hat stands, and I was able to use them...

(They still need a bit of tweaking as the yarn came a bit unraveled, but that's an easy enough fix.)

I even finished the jellyfish for the donation, but naturally I did not take a picture of it.

I did manage to make some of the wreath pins, but they weren't quite finished (nor did I make as many of them as I would have liked)...

(They're small. The arrows point to them.)

And as for the Russian Poncho... yeah, I didn't even touch that. (Sorry, Heather.) Nor have I done any Christmas knitting.

I did, however, tear apart the mini backpack and rework it. And I'll show that off at some point. (I haven't had a chance to take any pictures other than the ones at the craft boutique.)

Progress. Sort of.

Friday, November 17, 2017


Remember the whole "stop looking at me" conversation I related on Wednesday?

That same day, all the English classes at the continuation high school were writing the quarterly district essay. (I was covering graphic arts.)

The next day, I covered one of the English teachers. (They were out grading the essays.) And I found this on her desk...

Click on picture to make bigger (so you can read it).

So, instead of working on the required essay (which was worth quite a bit), this student took exception to "being watched", too.

I'm not the only one.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Must Do "Work"

The previous day, the English class had to do the writing assessment that this school district requires of all its students. So, on this day, the teacher left them a video.

You'd think they'd be happy to have a video. Some were.

This one boy, however, was quite upset. He needed to get some work done. He wanted a computer.

The schools now have class sets of Chromebooks (read: lightweight laptops) that teachers can use for various lessons. As this class wasn't going to need the Chromebooks for this lesson, the computers weren't accessible.

The boy insisted. He needed to get something accomplished. I thought this laudable, so when he asked if he could borrow a Chromebook from another class, I allowed it. (It was supposed to be a relaxed day for them, so if someone wanted to do work...)

In the end, six students went and got Chromebooks.

But, they were rather noisy for those doing classwork...

I quick peek over their shoulders, and I found out what all the noise was. Were they working hard on class requirements? Of course not. They were playing a first person shooter game.


Later in the day, Terrence showed up. He informed me that he needed a computer. (No, he didn't ask. Apparently, asking permission is for others.)

Well, I stopped him. I asked him if he actually planned to work. I'm sure you can imagine his response.

(I explained what I had observed earlier in the day. He promised me he was going to do work.)

You know I didn't leave it at that. I went to look over his shoulder...

To find him doing work. Slowly. But, not games. So, progress.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Stop Watching Me

The memo read, "In order to be in compliance with CIPA regulations, all students must receive instruction regarding internet safety annually..."

The "instruction" was a short video that all the kiddos had to watch. Simple enough. I explained to the group what was up, and I put the video on.

"Can I go to the office to pick up my schedule? I've already seen the video."

I explained I realized that she had already seen the video. Last year. But she had to watch it again. She could go to the office after.

Oh, you'd think I was planning to torture her. (You've all see instruction videos for things like this. I freely admit it was as tedious as you imagine.) She whined. She needed her schedule right then. The video was boring. She didn't need to see it again.

So, I stopped the video. Reiterated that it was an annual requirement. That most jobs required such trainings regularly, and she was going to sit still for the video whether she liked it or not. And I'd start the video over each time she complained.

That got the complaints to stop (especially when I did actually start the video over). But she wasn't watching. She was watching me.

I turned and watched her right back.

"Stop looking at me."

I explained that she should have been watching the video.

"I can't watch the video with you looking at me."

I explained that if she was watching the video, she wouldn't notice me. She debated this. As long as I was watching her, she'd watch me right back.

Deep sigh.

I wish I could tell you this was the first time I've ever had this debate. Sadly, I've had this conversation (with different students) many, many times.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Borrowed from Life

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 😉

After pondering life, the universe, and everything, I decided I don't have the brain capacity to ask a question that hasn't been done to death. So, I went a bit more mundane...

What if you wrote a book where one of the main characters was someone close to you? And then, what if that person realized they were in your book, but they thought they were a completely different character (than the one you based on them)?

Monday, November 13, 2017

Impulse Control

Note: This post was written last Thursday night.

It was Wednesday, late afternoon. I had the whole evening planned out. And then I went on Pinterest...

I saw this pin. (I won't post a picture due to copyright concerns. But it's worth it to go and look. I'll wait...) And I just had to have one. (Link to the blog post the pin is attached to.)

There is no good reason for this. I don't need a little mini crocheted backpack on a keyring. The thing really has no purpose. But it's so cute. And it looks a bit like my EOS lip balm holders, so I knew I had the skills to make one.

And I had the yarn, too. But...

I have other stuff I should be working on. Stuff on deadlines. Seriously. I have a list:
  • I still haven't finished my sister-in-law's birthday present. (The Russian Poncho.) And, um, her birthday was at the end of September.
  • I sold my last unicorn gift card holder weeks ago. I'm in the process of completing two more. As in, all I have left to do is to attach the rest of the rainbow mane. (I've attached the red and orange stripes. All that's left are the yellow through purple stripes.)
  • I have a craft fair on Saturday. And there are things that need I need to get finished for that...
    • I have a hat stand that is part way complete. I need to finish that.
    • I am out of the wreath brooches that I made last year. I want a bunch more of those.
    • As is common for all craft fairs, this one requires a donation. (These things tend to be fundraisers, so part of the price of having a booth is the donation.) After avoiding the obvious, I realized that I had to make a jellyfish. Which I started. I still need to make the tentacles and assemble. 
    • Plus there are a couple odds and ends I'd like to have done in time.
And that doesn't even include the Christmas knitting I should be doing but am not. Ugh.

Right, so knowing this list, did I put the backpack idea aside until at least after Saturday? Of course not.

Here's the pic...

I dropped everything Wednesday night. Finished up on Thursday. Not quite right, though. Those straps are just kinda wrong. 

It's an easy enough fix. Some tearing apart and putting back together. Doable. But not until after the craft fair at minimum. At least I can do that. I think.

As of Sunday night, I have completed the unicorn gift card holders and the hat stands. All that's left of the jellyfish is to give it a face, stuff it, and sew it up. But I still have not touched the wreaths or the Russian Poncho. Sigh. At least I'm making some progress. And I left the mini backpack alone.

Friday, November 10, 2017

Simultaneous Generation of Ideas

Middle school graphic arts class. Because there was a sub, they were stuck doing bookwork. (And they didn't like that one bit. Let's just say it was an "interesting" day.)

Their assignment was to read an article about the guy who invented Flamin' Hot Cheetos (a snack many of them consume daily), answer some questions, and then:

Click on pic to make it bigger.

One of the classes was actually on task. They discussed ideas. (One table discussed grilled cheese ice cream. Ick!) And then one boy accused a girl of stealing his idea.

That was my cue to intervene.

The boy showed me his idea. Ramen noodles with bacon. (The kiddos are obsessed with bacon.) He explained that he went to show the girl (who was seated at a different table), and her idea was the same.

Only, it wasn't. She was doing a noodle thing as well, but it was something about double the noodles. No bacon involved. Because they were both noodles, the boy said they were the same.

I explained that the ideas were different. The girl hadn't stolen his idea. Assuming that they hadn't been in communication before drawing their pictures, they had stumbled upon the simultaneous generation of ideas, or multiple discovery. I talked movies, but if you Google those terms, you get all sorts of interesting articles.

The boy, however, continued to claim the girl had stolen his idea. As he was just complaining, I walked away and let him be. At a certain point, I'm not going to change his mind. And if he's not disturbing anyone (other than them having to listen to his continuous complaint), it's a waste of my time to continue to argue.

At the end of the period, I collected their work. As I neatened up the pile, I found that the boy hadn't turned in his work. After all that, he doesn't turn it in?

Middle schoolers. *shakes head*

Thursday, November 9, 2017

My "Favorite" Sophomores

I thought that I wouldn't have to deal with Kevin that Thursday, but then he walked in late with a pass. But, in a strange reversal, this 6th period actually worked, and quietly. (This was the same day as yesterday's post. I was so surprised to actually get a good class. One. But I'll take one.)

I wonder if Kevin even remembered me. I hope not.

Basically, Kevin spent all the time I had him in class avoiding work. Oh, he claimed he was going to "get it done" and he had "plenty of time", but I have yet to see him complete any work in class.

Last Monday I encountered Asia again. I noticed her name on 3rd period's roll sheet (for a photography class), so I had more warning than her.

Asia and I had a couple run-ins last year. She loudly criticized me when I insisted that she, um, settle down and do work. Any time I'd pass her on campus, she loudly laughed at me. I pretended not to hear.

Passing period. I stood at the front of the room as the students entered. I heard Asia as she peeked in the room, saw me, and then made her displeasure known with a string of expletives. Thankfully, she did this outside.

I looked at a girl seated directly in front of me. "She hates me," I told her.

Asia almost entered the room, but then turned and repeated her invective.

"She really hates me."

Eventually, Asia entered the room. Took her seat. She put on her pleasant face and spoke politely to me. All period.

I was impressed. She's learned to put on a false facade even though she hates me. Progress. I'll take it.

Kevin also didn't make any waves. It wasn't until after class that his story gets interesting.

On Kevin's desk, he left behind some papers. Assuming he had left behind his assignment, I went to retrieve them. And found something I did not expect.

The top page was a printed set of instructions:
  1. Ask Mr. W if you can still turn in missing assignments.
  2. If not, ask if remaining assignments will pull up grade.
  3. Repeat for Ms. S.
  4. Repeat for Mr. V.
The following pages were printouts of the gradebook for his classes. Unsurprisingly, he's getting Fs in all those classes. (Mr. W was who I was subbing for--English. Ms. S teaches home ec/cooking. Mr. V teaches chemistry.) 

I was not terribly shocked. Nor was I terribly shocked that those pages lay forgotten on a desk. I rather doubt Kevin is planning on following any of the instructions from his counselor. (That's why he was late to class. Presumably, they were discussing how he's failing high school.) 

I strongly suspect my Kevin stories will soon be coming to you from the continuation high school.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

The Quiet Game

Freshman English. It had been a very long day, but it was only 4th period. (The students do not like their teacher, and so they've gone wild.)

At a ceratin point, there's nothing more for me to do. I try to contain the chaos, but otherwise I sit back and watch.

The students were loud. Most weren't doing the assignment. (They were supposed to be doing a "close read" of "The Lady or the Tiger".) The conversations were typical of freshmen. (I think. I wasn't really listening.) In the midst of this, one student decided it was time to play The Quiet Game.

Seriously? They wouldn't shut up while I practically did the first question for them, but when they had leave to discuss their work (not that they were using the permission to talk constructively), they think The Quiet Game is fun?

One student challenged another. Then, "The first person to talk is a loser," type of thing. And suddenly the whole room was silent--except for all the snickering.

The silence lasted for maybe two minutes. They tried again. Still, not long. The most peace I had during class, certainly. Although, I'd have traded any silence for actual work on the assignment.

Sigh. Freshmen...

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Cult of You

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 😉

Most of you are writers of some sort. You've written blog posts. Some of you have written novels. Maybe you've written articles or maybe you've written random Facebook posts. Plus, you have a real life where you've done things and said things that are remembered. Perhaps you don't think much of it, but...

What if someone has taken your "teachings" and created a religion (or a cult) out of them?

Monday, November 6, 2017

Updating Pictures, Part 6

It's been a couple weeks since I last did this. It seems I need that much time to get through what is now a photo stash.

First up, I've updated some pictures of my little pouches that are big enough to hold a credit card or gift card...

Pink with Blue Q Gift Card Wallet

Gift Card Holder with Knitted Monogram A in Gray and Neon Green

Purple with Gray X Knitted Monogram Gift Card Holder

Eventually, I'll get all the ones I still have listed... 

But I can make any letter... 

You may remember all of these. They were used to illustrate my A to Z Challenge posts. so many different color combinations that I can't list them all. 

I also managed to relist two Christmas ornaments... 

Christmas Ornament Knitted Tree Ball in Blue and White Beads

Red, Purple, and Yellow Knit Christmas Ball 

Progress. Sort of.

Friday, November 3, 2017

Okay with an F

I was back in Mr. M's class. (This is getting to be a habit.) It was Friday, so they had a quiz.

It's a special ed. class, so their quizzes are open book. When they finished, if there was time, the instructional aide corrected their quizzes. If there was time, and if they didn't do so well on the quiz, the aide gave the quizzes back to the students to fix.

(They don't get full credit, however. They only get the full points if they got it right the first time.)

It was first period. The aide handed back a quiz to the first student to finish. And he was not pleased.

You should have seen him. He flailed about. Rolled his eyes. Cried. Threw his head towards his desk. From across the room I could see his performance.

Even more impressive, he did this all silently (as the rest of the class was still working on their quizzes).

Later, I talked to the aide. Apparently he always does this. You'd think he'd be more grateful with the help on getting a better grade.

In a following period (period 4, I think), I was the one correcting quizzes. I gave a boy back a quiz with a bunch of mistakes. I got busy with other things, so I didn't re-collect his quiz until the end of the period. That's when I saw he hadn't touched his quiz.

He got seven wrong. Out of twelve. That's more than half. I don't need a calculator to know that's less than 50% correct, so that's an F. I told him so.

"I'm fine with that grade."

Um, really? Even when I told him he didn't get half right?

It's a middle school thing, I think. I hope.

If you had failed a quiz, and your teacher gave you back your paper with the opportunity to fix your mistakes, would you fix your mistakes? (I know I would!)

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Wasting his Time

It was one of those easy days. 12th grade English. They had a writing assessment to do. (It's something they've done four times a year every year since they were freshmen.)

At lunch I ran into another sub (Ms. I.). (Those of us who have been around a while are on friendly terms with each other.) She also had an English class (10th or 11th graders, I think). They were also doing the writing assessment.

So, we were comparing notes.

The writing assessment is done the same for all English classes. A day or so before the writing day, the kiddos are given a set of articles (two or three), and sometimes they also get a video to watch. These all tie in to the topic of the essay. They have the period to read the articles and annotate them. They can make as many notes as they wish. Then they leave the articles with the teacher.

On the writing day, they get their articles back, and they also get the writing prompt. They have the period to write.

Ms. I. was telling me about her group. Same as me, her day was going pretty smoothly. Except there was this one boy...

Ms. I. had the usual cell phone battle with him. (I was lucky enough to tell my group no cell phones, and they complied.) She told him to put his cell phone away, and he took his time doing it. Then he needed to use the restroom. And he was gone a good 15 minutes.

So, they got to the end of the period, and the boy wasn't finished with his essay. He asked Ms. I. if he could come back in the next class to finish it.

I laughed. I probably would have laughed in the boy's face, too. Ms. I. is nicer than me, though. She did not, however, let him continue working on the essay.

They had the period to complete the essay. It's not our problem if they wasted that time. I think we need one of those signs, kind of like the "a lack of planning on your part does not constitute an emergency on my part".

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

The Tardy Boys

They waited until the bell rang to saunter into the room. Five 11th grade boys. Then one paused in the doorway. Just because, I think.

O ho! Someone's put himself (themselves?) on my radar.

And then... nothing. It was a U.S. history class. They had bookwork. They worked quietly. Ho hum.

So I thought I had a great title and nothing more. Until one of the tardy boys got up and sauntered to the other side of the room. He stood in front of another boy, waiting with his hand out. The boy reached into his purple can of Pringles and handed the first boy some chips.

This also is not especially blog-worthy. At least it wasn't until a second boy got up and repeated the first boy's entreaty. All three had been in the tardy group. And all three were seated as far away from each other as possible in the room.

I'm not a fan of eating in the classroom, but I chose not to fight that battle on this day. And I figured the incident was over. Until boy #1 got out of his seat again.

First boy #1. Then boy #2. And then boy #3 got out of his seat to deliver the can of Pringles to boy #1.

All the while, the rest of the class worked quietly.

But I had had enough. There was no reason for the roaming. Especially since the boys did have work to do.

The next day I ran into their teacher. Since the classes worked so well, she rewarded the students. Well, all except the boys I had named for the whole roaming thing. 😏

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Short Horror Story

Since it's Halloween, rather than a what if, I thought I'd try my hand at a two sentence horror story. (Thanks for the idea, Jeanne.)

If you want some really good ones, go here. And if you'd like to try it out yourself, I'd love to see what you come up with in the comments (or go ahead and link to your own post).

After days starving, trapped by the snowstorm, we thank James for his sacrifice today. But the children are going to be hungry again tomorrow.

Monday, October 30, 2017

Fidget Spinner Cozy Pattern

I've been meaning to post this for a while. I wrote this up in May, I think, and then set it aside and forgot about it. Oops.

(I know many of my readers aren't knitters. If you want one of these but don't have the means to make it yourself, I am selling them out of my Etsy shop, Zizi Rho Designs.)

Initially, the idea was to repurpose my "knitted pouches" (which is a repurpose from a cell phone cozy that you can clip on something--long story how they came about in the first place). If the fidget spinners fit inside, that's what I'd call the pouches from now on.

But once I had that thought, I kept going. I could knit something the same size as the fidget spinner. It would need to be a triangle. but if I did that, then I could keep it open at the center so one could still spin it while it was in the fabric. This would make it a cozy...

How to construct? I could start from the center, knit one side, then knit the other. That way, both sides look exactly the same. Balanced.

So, plan in place, I set about knitting one. I used a temporary cast on. Knit a few rounds. Bound off. Unraveled the temporary cast on and repeated for the other side. Easy enough.

But I didn't like how the finished object looked. There was an extra half row that made the garter ridges look wrong.

A couple more tries with a couple more tweaks...

And I discovered that I was making the whole thing much more complicated than I needed to.

I guess I've been knitting for too long. I know several ways to accomplish a goal. I was using every trick I know when simpler is actually best in this case.

Right. So that's the story. Here's the pattern.

  • About 0.15 oz of worsted weight yarn
  • Set of 4 size 8 (5.0 mm) double pointed needles
  • Stitch markers
Gauge: About 15 sts/4 inches over garter stitch while slightly stretched.

This is made to fit the triangular shaped fidget spinner that's about 3 inches (7.6 cm) along each side. If you have a different style to cover, adjust the pattern accordingly.

  • This pattern is written to be knitted on 3 double pointed needles. If using a different circular method, mark each "needle" with stitch markers and proceed accordingly. 
  • The increases are done by doing a yarn over (yo) on the round, and then on the following round working those yarn overs through the back loop (TBL)

Using Old Norwegian Cast On, cast on 21 stitches.
Arrange these stitches over 3 needles, 7 stitches per needle (or mark off 7 stitches).
Join to work in rounds.
Follow the chart, working each needle as indicated:

Needle 1
Needle 2
Needle 3
K1, yo, k6, yo
P1, yo, p6, yo
K1, yo, k6, yo
P1, p1 TBL, p6, p1 TBL
K1, k1 TBL, k6, k1 TBL
P1, p1 TBL, p6, p1 TBL
K1, yo, k8, yo
P1, yo, p8, yo
K1, yo, k8, yo
P1, p1 TBL, p8, p1 TBL
K1, k1 TBL, k8, k1 TBL
P1, p1 TBL, p8, p1 TBL
Ssk, k7, k2tog
P2tog, p7, p2tog
Ssk, k7, k2tog
Ssk, k5, k2tog
P2tog, p5, p2tog
Ssk, k5, k2tog
P7 (bind off)
K7 (bind off)
P7 (bind off)

Round 10 is the bind off round. Use the Simple Stretchy Bind Off.

Wind in ends, and put it on your fidget spinner.

I'd love to see your finished projects. Upload to Ravelry. Tag me on Instagram or Twitter (I'm @ZiziRho).

Friday, October 27, 2017

The Balloons

They delivered them while I gave period one my opening remarks. A bunch of helium-filled blue balloons. I was covering an 8th grade science class. And all of their eyes went wide.

"What are the balloons for?"

I tied the bunch to the back of a chair. No way was I going to deal with those yet. Experience has taught me to pass those sorts of things out at the end of the period.

Still, periodically, someone would ask, "What are the balloons for?" And I would reply, "We'll get to them at the end of the period."

The balloons were a reward for the kiddos who had done well on the state testing last spring. The awarding of the balloons turned into a nice little ceremony.

I read the explanation of what the balloons were for. Then I called names. Each student came up to retrieve their balloon. The class applauded each recipient. It went very smoothly.

And then the bell rang.

Passing period. A student returned. "Howard knocked Amber's balloon out of her hand, and it flew away."

And so it began.

Second period the balloons were everywhere. A couple came loose from their strings. I retrieved one from the ceiling. (I was tall enough to reach. The student was grateful.)

Fourth period a couple girls came up with a game. Balloons mysteriously floated to the ceiling. The girls were cutting their classmates' balloons loose. (They did not have balloons of their own. And Andie was in that group.)

By sixth period, there were far fewer balloons. One boy walked into class with his balloon's remnant. Tied to a string was the bottom of a popped balloon. It looked rather sad as he tossed it over his shoulder as if it might fly again.

Yeah, that went about how I expected it would. Talk about an ephemeral reward!

Thursday, October 26, 2017

The Long Walk

We're now officially into the school year. We've hit the days where there are not enough subs to go around. This means extra work for me. 😎

I was at the back of campus. Room 919. Beyond the classroom were the P.E. fields. So, way at the back of campus.

I was, of course, expecting the phone call. Could I work an extra period? Of course. And then she told me the room number.

Room 100.

Yup. That's about as far away from room 919 as you'd expect.

Sometimes the secretary will tell me who the teacher is or what the subject is, but not this time. However, I knew already. It was a Spanish class. But this teacher has various levels of Spanish. So, I didn't know quite what I'd be walking into.

As per normal, we got into the classroom after the bell. I went looking for the lesson plans. Found them. And then I learned what class I'd be covering.

AP Spanish IV.

I did a mental jig as I read that. The class cheered when I told them their test had been postponed.

(I could have ended up with freshmen in Spanish I. They would have been a challenge. But Spanish IV--and AP to boot--contains the kiddos who have chosen to remain in this elective. The kiddos who actually like the subject. The good kids.)

Some days I just luck out. It was that kind of week, actually. Well, until... (Check in tomorrow. That day was more "interesting".)

Wednesday, October 25, 2017


Monday morning. The teacher was there before school to give me the rundown of what he wanted done in his classes. It was a chapter on vertebrates in the simplified science textbook for the middle school special ed. class. Standard stuff.

Mr. M was in and out of his classroom for the first couple periods. (This sometimes happens when the start time for the teacher's thing is later than the start time for school.) I don't particularly mind, but I do get a bit of stage fright.

(There have been instances where I got a "critique" later, so I worry.)

Luckily, the classes were cooperative on this day, and we got through the material. Before Mr. M was ready to leave, however, he mentioned that he'd be out again on Wednesday. And, if I wanted and wasn't already booked, I could cover his class.

As it was a pretty good day, I figured I'd try to get the class again. But when I called in for an assignment for Wednesday, Mr. M's class had already been taken.

Ah well. There are other classes. I didn't think too much more about it.

I happened to be on the same campus Wednesday. I was scheduled to cover a general ed. English class. But the secretary had a request for me. Mr. M had gone to her and asked her to have me cover his classes again.

When we're booked to cover a class, we're booked to cover a particular class. There's a whole system in place. The secretary sometimes does switch subs around, but it's something that only happens under extraordinary circumstances. (Or if there's a mistake in the scheduling.)

However, on this day, the secretary asked if I'd be willing to make the switch. It was okay with me, but what about the other sub?

He's been subbing about as long as I have. We're on friendly terms. I figured that he'd be okay with the switch. I mean, general ed. instead of special ed? I think he actually got the better deal.

(I told the secretary that if he didn't want to make the switch to let me know and I'd take back my originally scheduled assignment.)

It amazes me that teachers actually request me to cover their classes. And so this is how I covered the same class for two days this past week.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017


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. 😉

Have you heard of the idea of a universal basic income? It's something that's been all over my Twitter feed recently as #basicincome and #CASHcon. (If you haven't seen it, check it out.) I first heard of this only this year, but it seems to be getting more and more press. And this got me thinking...

What if you started getting an extra $1000 a month from some philanthropical concern? Would you be suspicious? What would you do with the money?

Monday, October 23, 2017

Fixed It

Last week I revealed the first block of the project I'm calling the Russian Poncho.

And I mentioned that I made a mistake. It's a subtle difference, but one that was kinda bothering me. (I'm not posting the picture from Pinterest of the pattern as I don't know the copyright, but you can check it out via the link.)

Well, I fixed it. Here's the updated version...

Look at the outer rounds. It's visible in that purple band between the bands of teal. See it?

I think it makes a big difference. And it wasn't a big correction to make. I even managed to complete a second block this week...

So, progress.

What did you make progress on last week?

Friday, October 20, 2017

A Forced Computer Restart

Friday was a weird day. I got what is called a "roving" assignment. It was a training day for the English teachers. But instead of having them out all day, they split the group in half so half were out for the first half of the day while the other half were out for the second. And since the teacher I was covering the first half of the day had a 1st period prep, I was sent elsewhere for that period.

Which is why when I walked into the class I was covering 2nd period, I was not surprised to find the computer set up with the class' assignment.

The class had vocabulary words to copy down. This is something they do every day. All I had to do was turn on the projector.

Well, ideally that's how it would have worked out.

When I got into the room, I found a countdown clock on the computer. I had less than ten minutes before it was going to shut down.

I know this drill. The computer uploads updates. Then it tells you it needs to shut down. But you can postpone that. So, that's what I did. I told the computer to postpone shutting down for four hours.

Only, that didn't stop the countdown clock. Nothing would stop the countdown clock. I tried the exit button. I tried CTRL-ALT-DEL. I tried the escape button. I clicked on everything I could. But the countdown clock kept ticking away.

The only other trick I know is to shut down the computer. Which is what it was going to do anyway.

Unfortunately, it was going to take the vocabulary words with it. And I didn't have the teacher's log in, so when the computer restarted, I would not be able to access the teacher's files.

Ah, technology...

In the end, I could not stop the forced shut down. The students had maybe five minutes of the eight to ten that they needed to copy down the words. And with no other choice, I then just started them on the assignment for the rest of the period.

It was a freshman class, so I had the usual freshman problems. The teacher's computer finished restarting. And then I could log in to the computer under my log in.

And it turned out that the teacher had a back up for me. She had printed out the words (as well as the words for the next class), and her document camera was connected. So, I set that up, and about halfway through the class, we were able to complete the vocabulary that should have been done at the start.

Better late than never.

With that technical difficulty out of the way, I had no issues with the computer for the next class.

These are the joys of subbing. Unexpected issues always seem to crop up.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

All Subs

Tuesday and Thursday of last week I covered a "severe" special ed. class.

Rather than go into a long-winded explanation of what that means, let me reference some previous posts. Two weeks ago, I wrote about the class that these kiddos will go into once they've aged out of the high school. And I pretty much had the same group at the end of the school year when they were still in middle school (so, June 2016). (In fact, Kenya, Brittany, and the boy Kenya had a crush on were all in this class.)

Tuesday things went pretty well. And if that's all there was to the story, this wouldn't have made the blog. I figured Thursday would go similarly. In fact, when I arrived, the lesson plan for Thursday was pretty much identical to Tuesday's. (The math problems were of the same type, but different examples. The grammar lesson had different questions. The reading assignment was a different page. But otherwise, we did the exact same thing.)

But when class started, I was all alone with the class.

These types of classes always have instructional aides. The IAs know everything, and I lean on them heavily. This class was supposed to have two IAs with me in first period. And yet...

Luckily, I knew the drill as it was the same as it had been for Tuesday. We did their "journal" (which was a math problem... a story for another day). And then it was time to deliver coffee exactly the way they had done on Tuesday.

About the time we were getting ready to leave, an IA showed up saying that she had been sent to fill in. And while we were delivering the coffee, another sub arrived to help out. (He was actually a substitute teacher like me. The class he was supposed to cover turned out to not need a sub.)

By second period I had full IA coverage. But, opposite what's usually the case on these days, I was the one who knew what was going on in the class and I was directing the others in what to do.

Somehow we got through the day. (I did have one regular IA, but she worked the last three periods.)

When I was getting the assignments for this week, the sub caller almost gave me a different teacher for Thursday. When I realized that I could cover the same teacher on Thursday as I did on Tuesday, I made sure to request that placement. I shudder to think what would have become of another sub walking into this without the backup I had had on Tuesday (with IAs who guided me through the day).

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Punishment, Unusual and a Little Cruel

In the first year of high school math, certain students who are struggling are given an extra period of what is called "math support". All the struggling students. Together. In one period.

This is how difficult classes are constructed.

But, I had two things going for me on this day. One: I had fair warning from the teacher himself and his co-teacher (who had taught all the previous classes that day). Warning and support. And two: another teacher "helped out" (read: did all the work) with the class.

One of the warnings I got was a little trick the teachers used to keep the class in line. Turning on the air conditioning was contingent upon the class' behavior.

I know many parts of the U.S. are getting into fall temperatures. However, I'm in southern California. On this day, our high was projected to be in the upper seventies. (Roughly 25 C.) With it being a sunny and warm day, and us being in a classroom with no open windows, the room got fairly warm. I had been running the a/c all day.

But, with the warning, I turned off the a/c before this class came in. (This class was immediately after lunch.)

Class got started. The other teacher who "helped out" showed up. (There was some question as to whether or not she'd be there on this day. As it sounds like she's doing this extra on her own time, I wouldn't have blamed her for not coming in.) I passed out their assignment, and they got to work.

Slowly, the temperature in the room crept up. And someone asked me to turn on the a/c.

The other teacher then used the a/c to her advantage. She informed the class that everyone had to complete two problems before she'd turn on the a/c. Several students had completed way more than two problems, but several others hadn't even written their names on their paper.

It took at least five minutes (maybe ten) before the stragglers finally finished their two problems.

I was urging them on. I run warm generally, and I was already dripping sweat. (This is normal for me.)

The class was still loud. Several only got those two problems done. But, that class could have gone a whole lot worse. I'm going to have to consider using the a/c to my advantage in the future.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Skipping Lunch

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 we didn't need to eat?