Wednesday, January 22, 2020


It was just an ordinary Wednesday at the high school. They worked; I watched. I looked about for something, anything interesting to post about.

The day ended. I checked out. I headed for my car.

The hood of my car was open. It wasn't propped open, but it wasn't fully shut. I closed it, and I wondered. Had I accidentally popped the hood as I got out of my car that morning? I've never done that before. Was it possible?

When I went to start my car, I realized I hadn't accidentally opened my hood. Because, my car wouldn't start. And unlike when my battery has died (which it has done a few times over the years), I had no power at all. That's when I suspected...

I opened up my hood to be greeted by...

...a big gaping hole where the battery should be.

I didn't have any time to process this turn of events on my own, as one of the security guys noticed my distress, and he was standing with me when I opened the hood. He immediately called for the rest of the security team.

While they were talking about "the video" and how long my car had been in that spot (all day), I was contemplating next steps. I needed a battery. AAA has roadside battery service. So, I needed to call AAA.

The guys were concerned that something else had been taken out of my car. But I could tell that nothing was missing. I don't really leave anything of value in my car anyway, and besides, it didn't feel like they'd been inside the car. How did they gain access to the engine (as the hood release is inside the car)?

Waiting for AAA to arrive, another of the security guys was talking about insurance and police reports, and only then did it occur to me that I should probably call the police. I mean, one does call the police when one has been robbed, correct? And what is the proper term for this? Burgled? Thieved?

Security got word that they found the incident on the video surveillance. (The school has cameras all over.) The thieves were in a silver Nissan with no plates. Apparently, the whole theft took them five minutes. They reached beneath the car to release the hood. I was invited back to see, but I didn't really need to. I doubt I would recognize them, and I was waiting for those I had called, anyway.

AAA arrived. He was just getting started when the police arrived. The AAA driver made a comment that he does arrive before the cops, but I had called AAA first, so that really doesn't count.

The cop asked how much it was going to cost me to replace, and the AAA driver quoted him the price.

I gave my statement. The cop was surprised to hear that there was video of the incident. He asked if he could see it, and the security guy said, "Of course". It sounded like the cop had been to the school before, for he knew which office he'd need to go to for this.

AAA finished just slightly before the police were done with me. I was given a file number for my report, and then I was on my way.

I have been subbing a long time. I've been working at this school for years. This is the first time my car has been broken into. Still, I was nervous to return as I was already scheduled to cover a class there on Friday.

Friday came and went. My car was in the same state as I had parked it in. But I'm still going to be a little nervous for the foreseeable future.

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

The Plot

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 you happened upon someone's plot to murder someone you don't know?

Monday, January 20, 2020


For Christmas, my niece wanted a beanie like one she'd seen online in periwinkle. Okay then...

Yes, Christmas. I really only started my Christmas knitting after Christmas, so all those gifts are late. And yes, this is the niece of the gray behemoth from last year

From the picture (which I'm linking to only out of copyright concerns), I could tell it was a rather fine yarn knit in a one by one ribbing. But finding the color periwinkle proved to be a challenge. Ultimately, I had to search "periwinkle" on LoveCrafts.

I swatched. That just means I cast on a small number of stitches and worked them in pattern for a bit. I know how many stitches I cast on. I measured the piece. I know how big I want the finished beanie to be (niece's head was measured), Just a bit of math told me how many stitches to cast on.

From the picture, I could tell they used a tubular cast on. (These were machine knit, I'm sure, but I can still replicate in hand knitting.) I've never done tubular cast on before, but I have seen it done and I can follow directions. (Every technique is demonstrated somewhere online. That makes picking up new skills easy.)

It turns out that the tubular cast on is a bit complicated. You have to use a provisional cast on, then work five rows in a specific manner and... (If you're interested, you can see a video of this here.)

I set aside an afternoon just to cast on. It took me two and a half TV shows to complete, but I managed it. Then I joined to work in the round. And that's when my sneaking suspicion proved to be correct...

My hat was way too big.

For comparison, the above image has an actual head-sized beanie next to it. (It's more of a child size, but child size versus adult size isn't that much different.)

Deep sigh.

There's nothing for it now. I have to frog it and start over.

I mean, unless you know a giant that wants a beanie. In periwinkle.

I sat down to recalculate. Because somewhere the math went wrong. And that's when I saw it.

I had done the math correctly. Alas, when using niece's head measurement, I transposed the digits (instead of 23 inches, I calculated 32 inches). Someone, ahem, wasn't paying attention...

Considering how many times I gently correct students in math class with, "Does that number make sense?"...

Friday, January 17, 2020

Last Day Scramble

Seniors (twelfth grade). Government.

The teacher was out all week. (Bereavement. Her mother passed away.) She gave them a project.

It was a very clever project. They were to write a "bill" for the House or Senate. They could pick any topic, and they were given a template for how the thing should look. Then they were to create a poster to go along with this fictional bill.

They had four days to work on it.

I did not cover the first day, but I was there for the last three. So, on day two, they acted as if they had it. Quiet classrooms. They appeared to work on the computers.

But on Friday...

Oh, the scramble. So many of them needed to get their "bills" printed, so there were a bunch of them who needed to go to the library. (They can print their work out there. There was no printer in the classroom.) And so many of them had barely started their posters.

It was entertaining to watch, really.

I got a good stack of finished projects. They had come up with some interesting "bills".

And I can't complain. No one was surprised by the deadline. They were told it up front.

It's the same everywhere. We all kind of scramble to get things finished on time.

Thursday, January 16, 2020

Not So Obvious

The first week back after winter break is traditionally pretty slow for subs. But illness has taken hold, and the computer teacher was hit hard. The students were all, "Another sub..."

It was a bit of a scramble to get the lesson plans. (They had been emailed the previous day, but the prior day's sub hadn't left them.) And then...

Any other week, all I'd have to do with the class was tell them to go into Google Classroom and find their assignment for the week. But it was a new semester, and this class was a semester course. These kiddos were brand new to the class. Which meant that they needed to sign up for the Google Classroom class.

This is actually pretty simple. All they need is a seven digit alpha-numeric code. Which I could not find on the lesson plan anywhere.

There were links to the Google Classroom page. The teacher had said the codes were included. And the sub's note from the previous day said they had worked well. So, what was I missing?

Turns out the codes were there, just in small print. It only took me a half hour to figure it out...

Some days I'm the idiot.

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

How Do You Say...?

Seventh grade world history, first period. They were starting their unit on Asia, so they had a map to work on. They were to identify the countries, cities, rivers, oceans, and features listed on the map.

Sometimes I forget how young they are and how much they don't know.

"Wait. Russia is in Asia...?"

"Is that where Indians come from?"

"Why do so many countries have -stan in their name?"

I spent several minutes trying to get a kid to stop saying "boo-dee-ism" for Buddhism. (This was the same child that wouldn't show me his paper. It was on his desk until I went over to talk to him. Then it vanished from his desk. He swore that he had done quite a bit of work, but he wouldn't allow me to see it.)

But the most repeated question was "how do you say...?" I was called to several desks and asked how various countries' names were pronounced. Pakistan. Turkmenistan. Uzbekistan. Etc.

If I had been covering more than one period of this (the teacher returned later that day), I would have taken the time with each class to read through all the names. Although, maybe not. There were a couple Chinese cities that I wasn't sure how to pronounce. (I'm so glad they didn't ask me those.)

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

What Are Your Pronouns?

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. 😉

The other day, someone was telling me about the gender neutral pronoun "ze". I'd never heard of it. All I'd heard about was singular "they". The point of this conversation was complaint, so I won't go there. (I don't see what the big deal is. We should all be able to identify ourselves the way we wish.) But it got me thinking...

What if our language had no gendered pronouns?