Wednesday, September 28, 2022

Escape Artist

It was the second week of the chemistry class. Eighth period, the end of the period. 

Several students had lined up near the door as they had all put their chairs on their desks. (The janitors ask us to do this so they can sweep up the room. Someone keeps tracking dirt in, so the sweeping up is appreciated.) 

I watch the door as sometimes students like to slip out. And the previous week, I had had someone pull that, but I hadn't caught them. 

This time, I did. Austin. 

I reported him to the office. The discipline office "had a talk" with him, and I was told if it happened again, the consequences would change. 

I'd been keeping an eye on Austin ever since, but he didn't try to leave class early again.

On my last day in the chemistry class, Austin asked to use the restroom. 

I did not think too much of this. I scanned his student number ID bar code into the app on my phone and hit "restroom pass". 

Some time later, a different student asked to go. I do a one-student-at-a-time thing. (The restroom is close. It shouldn't take them more than five minutes, and if it will, I'll give them more time.) And that's when I noticed Austin had been gone a while.

I don't usually note the time when a student leaves, but with the app it was easy enough to look up. Austin had been gone thirty minutes. 


I called the office and reported the cut. They called security. 

Austin returned a short time thereafter.

I really, really like the hall pass app. It's such an amazing tool. (I had to ask for access, and I'm really glad I did.)

Now, if only Austin would do his schoolwork. But that's a battle for another day. 

Tuesday, September 27, 2022


What if? It's the basis of many stories. We ask. We ponder. We wonder.

On Tuesdays I throw one out there. What if? It may be speculative. It may stem from something I see. It may be something I pull from the news.

Make of it what you will. If a for instance is not specified, interpret that instance as you wish. And if the idea turns into a story, I'd appreciate a thank you in the acknowledgements 😉 

What if you discovered that your diet was making you cranky? (In this instance, by "diet" I mean what you feed yourself, not a calorie-restricting regimen.)

Friday, September 23, 2022

The Boyfriend

On my second day covering Mrs. D's chemistry classes, Adrian approached me before sixth period. He didn't have an eighth period, and he didn't want to leave campus early, so could he hang out in the back of the class during my eighth period? 

I didn't see the harm in it. 

And on that first day, it was fine. Adrian sat in the back of the room and kept quiet. 

But I didn't realize two things. One: Adrian took my permission to mean he could hang out every eighth period. And two: Adrian's girlfriend was in period eight. 

When I start covering a class, I don't necessarily remember every student. It takes me a couple days (at minimum) to catch on to certain things. So, it took me over a week to realize that Adrian was the ingredient causing period eight to be a problem. 

(We're on a block schedule, so I only saw period eight every other day.)

First, he took another student's seat so he could sit next to the girlfriend. Once I caught on to that, the girlfriend went to sit next to him in the back. 

I mean, they were doing work. I heard them talking, and they were actually discussing the assignment. 

But, they were also all over each other. They weren't making out or anything, but it was clear they are a couple. And while it was all PG, it was still distracting, and neither were getting very much done.

Well, Adrian had overstayed his welcome. I told him not to come to period eight anymore.

That's what I get for being nice. The next student that wonders why I won't let them hang out in class can ask Adrian all about it.

Thursday, September 22, 2022

Out of Sync

The school has started doing video announcements in the morning. 

Every morning, in the second class of the day, a couple of students from the student government read through the various things everyone at school should know. It's club meetings and sports events and spirit weeks. Stuff like that. They've been doing morning announcements every morning for the entire time I've worked for the district.

(We had morning announcements when I was in school, too.) 

During the virtual school year, they made video announcements that were pre-taped. Since going back to in-person, it was back to announcements over the PA. 

But this year, they've started doing them on camera. As of last week, they have a two day a week schedule. 

What that means for me is that I have to connect to the school's YouTube channel and play the video on the in class projector. 

Alas, this proved to be a problem. 

(I couldn't figure out how to mirror the screen of a Chromebook to the projector. It turned out that the step I'd been missing was having the Chromebook already plugged into the projector and the projector turned on. I was trying to set things up before connecting everything. Sigh.) 

Because I couldn't figure out how to project the announcements, I did the next best thing. I sent the students the link to the video and had them watch it on their individual computers. 

Great solution. There was one problem...

Not all of their videos were entirely in sync. So, when they played the audio...

It was quite an interesting effect, to hear the same thing on 20-odd computers just milliseconds off. 

Well, now that I know what I was doing wrong, we won't be having that issue again. 

Wednesday, September 21, 2022


It was the Sunday before my third and final week in the chemistry class. I received an email from Mrs. D. She was going to need two more days before returning to class. 

Okay, then. 

Before we got the new (to us) substitute scheduling app, what would happen next was I would talk to the sub caller, and we would confirm that I was covering the chemistry class for two more days. But the app made this next bit a bit trickier. 

Because instead of talking to a human, Mrs. D needed to input her absence into the app, and then I needed to claim those days. 

Ideally, the teacher should be able to put in a request for the teacher that they want. I think it's possible. But again, we're new to the app, and no one has figured out how to do that. 

So, things got left to chance. 

I asked Mrs. D to let me know when she added the absence to the app. Now, remember, she's in India (with a 12 1/2 hour time difference). I got the email she had added the absence at 11 PM. But it wasn't in the system. 

Uh oh. 

The next day, I asked at the school. The secretary checked, but it wasn't in the system. Luckily, we were in a window of time when both Mrs. D and I were awake, so I emailed Mrs. D. After some back and forth, she managed to get the absence into the system.

But, of course, the totally foreseeable thing happened. Another sub claimed the job. Snatched it right out from under me. 

I did not know it had ended up in the system yet. I was in class. The secretary called me to let me know. 

She has the right access to boot someone out of a job. So, she did. And told me to grab it. 

It was the start of third period, and the morning announcements were going on, so the class barely noticed me on the phone. I grabbed my cell phone, opened the app, and snatched that gig right back. 

(The secretary called the other sub to let him know why he was kicked off the job. Nothing personal.)

I know the secretary can just assign me to the job. And in future, I'm sure that's how things will be handled. But while we learn to navigate the app, I'm sure these things will continue to happen.

Tuesday, September 20, 2022

Not Even a Gerbil

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 have pets? That is, what if it was not normal to take creatures that aren't human into your home and have them become a part of your family? 

Monday, September 19, 2022


Last week I discussed my intention to start a couple scarves over. I took this pink one:

And I made it a ball of yarn in about a half hour: 

However, the brown one: 

Yeah, this one is taking a bit longer.

I started it first. And at this point, it still looks like: 

Ripping something out usually just entails pulling out the stitches. And it goes pretty quickly. But this yarn kind of felted in on itself, so every so often, the pull to unravel a stitch became a rip. I think it's in a dozen pieces at this point. 


I've been attempting to unravel this over several TV shows. I've watched Midnight at the Pera Palace, The Food that Built America, and Stargirl. There were probably some other shows in there as well. 

Will I have made any more progress by next week? Unlikely. So, if there's no post next Monday, you'll know why.