Friday, June 14, 2019

Deluge Resolution

Last week we had our day in court.

In case you missed it, in late January, on a Saturday morning at 1:15, I was awoken by water pouring through my ceiling and onto my bed. (I explained it pretty well in that blog post.) Drying out the ceiling and putting the room back together has taken a while. (I gave periodic updates here, here, and here.)

What we have been waiting on is figuring out who's going to pay for it. Landlady has been fighting with the upstairs neighbors since it happened.

The people upstairs rent the place from the woman who used to live upstairs, but had recently moved to an assisted living facility. The woman's daughter hired a management company to oversee the rental stuff.

When the water incident happened, landlady contacted the management company immediately after the plumber left. (The plumber determined that the upstairs neighbors had to have overflowed something as he couldn't replicate the issue. He checked for a burst pipe and then if any of the fixtures in the upstairs bathroom were leaking. They weren't.)

The management company said the renters claimed not to know anything, so they were not at fault. He had no idea where the water came from, but it was not their responsibility.

Landlady went to the owner's daughter. She put her in touch with their insurance company. Insurance company said renters didn't do anything, so they wouldn't cover the issue.

And it's gone around and around for months. Landlady decided to sue. (I mentioned serving the owner the papers a couple weeks back.)

Small claims court is interesting. I learned a lot. Hopefully, I'll never need to use any of this knowledge again. But I figured I might as well jot it down in one place.

First of all, it turns out that "where else could the f***ing water have come from?" is a valid legal argument.

The owner of the unit upstairs did not appear in court. Instead, the management company and insurance company showed up. They said that since we couldn't prove the water pouring in was due to their tenants (the plumber only proved that it wasn't a burst pipe or a leaky faucet), they couldn't be held liable.

The judge disagreed. Once he determined that their bathroom is directly above my bedroom, he explained that the preponderance of evidence suggested that the only reasonable explanation was that something had happened in their bathroom. Putting the renters at fault.

So, the hole in my ceiling will soon be no more. But of course it'll take time before the insurance company pays out. (At least we now have a judgment. That should help, I hope.) And I'll have to move everything out of my room (I moved everything back in when it became apparent that it would be a while. It's been three months since I moved all my stuff back in.) It looks like we're in the home stretch.

As this post got huge, I'll save the lessons I learned for a future post. Because there were some particular things that I did not know before this whole thing. You may find it interesting as well.

Thursday, June 13, 2019

This School Year's Totals


The school year is officially over, so that means it's time for my annual stats post. (It's an idea I "borrowed" from another blogger.)

There are 180 days in the school year. I worked 164 of them. This is an all time high, beating the 163 days I worked for the 2016-17 school year. This does not count last summer, which was my busiest summer (18 subbing days, although most of those weren't "full" days), nor much of the jury duty of Mr. G at the continuation high school before the schools officially opened (that would be 15 days).

This was quite surprising, really. At the end of the last school year, they laid off 55 teachers. When they lay off teachers, those teachers go to the top of the subbing list, which means us regular subs should expect to work less. But most of the laid off teachers got hired back at the beginning of the school year, and subs were in short supply. We worked a lot.

Of those 164 days, I covered an extra period for 71 of them, and 26 of those days I covered teachers who didn't have a prep period. That's 97 extra periods or 16.2 bonus days.

88 of those days were spent at a high school; 39 were spent at a middle school; and 37 of those days were spent at the continuation high school. There was also one day I spent with a fifth grade class.

I did cover the first day of school (although, it kinda doesn't count) but not the last.

And finally, it's time to break things down a bit more specifically (note: I count a "full day" when the teacher has at least 2 periods of that class. A "single period" means the teacher has a different class the whole day, or I covered it on the prep period. I need a system as some days are kind of all over the place):
  • Social studies: 40 days with 10 extra periods
    • I'm shocked. Go back to previous years, and English is always the big winner. 
    • In first place is U.S. history with 19 days and 2 extra periods. In second place is world history with 18 days and 4 extra periods. I did cover a week of both of these classes, so I'm not surprised.
    • In third place is middle school world history (seventh grade) with 7 days and 1 extra period. Again, not shocked. I covered a week of this, too.
    • Then it's geography (5 days/2 extras) and government (5 days/4 extras), followed by eighth grade U.S. history (3 days/2 extras), psychology (3 days/1 extra), and economics (2 days/1 extra).
  • Math: 38 days with 10 extra periods
    • Most days in math were Integrated Math 1 (what used to be called algebra). Not surprising, as that's probably the math class with the most students in it. 21 days/6 extras.
    • In second place, Integrated Math 1 (read: geometry) with 8 days/7 extras.
    • Third place is seventh grade math with 7 days/2 extras.
    • Then it's eighth grade math (5 days/4 extras), business math (5 days), Integrated Math 3 (4 days/1 extra), math analysis and calculus (1 day--the same day as it's the same teacher for both), and statistics (1 period--again, same teacher as analysis and calculus).
  • English: 35 days with 13 extra periods
    • In third place!?! I'm shocked.
    • Most days were for eleventh grade at 15 days and 3 extras.
    • Second place is twelfth grade with 13 days and 3 extras.
    • Third place is eighth grade with 5 days and 1 extra.
    • As for the rest: seventh grade (4 days/2 extras), ninth grade (3 days/8 extras), and tenth grade (2 days/5 extras). 
    • There were 5 extra periods of journalism, but that's because the journalism teachers teach English the rest of the day.
    • I had 3 days but 10 extra periods of ELD (English language development), and again, that's because those teachers had one period of ELD with the rest of the day teaching other English classes.
  • Science: 31 days with 12 extra periods
    • In first place is chemistry with 10 days. I covered 6 days near the beginning of the year, so unsurprising.
    • Biology is in second place with 7 days/2 extras.
    • Seventh grade science comes in third place with 5 days/5 extras.
    • Then there's earth science (3 days/2 extras), environmental science (3 days/3 extras), eighth grade (2 days/3 extras), health (2 days/1 extra), intro to health care (1 day/1 extra), anatomy/physiology (1 day), and engineering (1 extra period).
  • Special education: 16 days with 12 extra periods
  • Miscellany
    • 11 days with 3 extras in computer classes. 8 of those were in the CAD class while Mr. G was finishing up his jury duty.
    • 2 days with 2 extra periods in woodshop. 
    • 14 days in ceramics. Because the teacher broke his collarbone.
    • 4 days in foreign languages. Spanish (1 day/4 extras), French (1 day), and Mandarin (2 days/1 extra). Yup, they have Mandarin classes.
    • 2 extra periods of drama (because those teachers teach English the rest of the day).
    • 3 days of ASB, 5 extra periods of "leadership" (some ASB, some middle school leadership).
    • 1 extra period of music. 2 extra periods of TV/video production.
    • 5 extra periods of golf.
It's always interesting to look at the numbers. Some of these days I remember, some of these days make the blog, and some of these days the kiddos behaved and the day passed unremarkably. 

I sure get around, don't I?

Previous years' stats:

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Peep Show


It was Monday of the last week of school. The eighth graders were on a celebratory field trip to Knott's Berry Farm. The teacher I was covering was one of the chaperones, and I was left with all of his seventh graders.

Mr. S had one period of middle school leadership, one period of middle school theater, and two periods of English Language Development (read: English learners). As his leadership and theater classes needed a different sort of room, he traveled to a more academic classroom for the ELD classes.

The room he used for his ELD classes housed health classes the rest of the day.

It's the end of the semester, so the health classes are currently studying sexually transmitted diseases, something first period gleefully informed me of. (I knew this already, so I shrugged it off.)

The classes' assignment was an essay about what goals they had for their summer vacation. And they were less than pleased to be writing.

And sixth period...

They were terrible in the usual sort of way. I was not shocked. So, I tried to settle them as I went into explaining what they were doing for the period.

"He lets me pull up the screen."

All classrooms have projectors now, and most of the time the screen is down. I didn't need the board underneath, but I figured what was the harm in letting the boy raise the screen?

As soon as the screen went up, the whole class erupted in hoots and hollers.

I looked back at the board...

Posted to the white board was a poster of the female reproductive system.

I pulled the screen back down.

I should have known.

The boys (there were two girls in the class of about twenty) didn't settle at all that period. I have a feeling that's their normal behavior. At least that class is no more. (School let out on the 6th. It is officially summer vacation.)

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

The Trees


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 trees stored memories?

Monday, June 10, 2019

Testing with the Walking Purse

I finally broke down and did it. I bought a light box.

I'd been making do with something I'd constructed out of poster board for almost a year now. Initially I wanted to see if it would help with lighting. It did. But it was flimsy, so I spent half my photographing time holding it up.

I bought it about a month ago. I only just got around to setting it up and trying it out.

I figured I might as well take pictures of the second walking purse...


I'm rather pleased with how these came out. And I'm quite happy that all I had to do was set up the light box and not worry about the whole thing toppling over as I shot.

This is my second attempt at this purse. (If you want to know why this is a walking purse, the explanation is here.) I made a few modifications. Mainly, I changed out the border...


I have not lined it yet. As I finished the putting together of it just before the cold hit, I'll blame illness (although "just" before is rather stretching things).


I plan to write up the pattern at some point. I'll add it to my ever growing list of published patterns.


The bead that I'm using as a button rather looks like a soap bubble...


I'm rather pleased with the purse. And the light box. I still have a ways to go before I feel comfortable with it, but it feels way more comfortable than how I felt when I got the new camera. So, progress.

Friday, June 7, 2019

Graduation Daydream


Our school year has come to a close. This is very early for us. But in a case of "if you can't beat them, join them", the school district has adjusted the school year to be more in line with much of the rest of the country.

Next week I'll have any stories from the last week of school (assuming I work any), with Friday serving as my annual year end stats post. Then it'll be on to the "summer schedule" until and unless I get any summer school assignments. (In the past this has been fairly light, but last summer I kept pretty busy. We'll see what this summer holds.)

So, to close out the year (and because last week's classes were way too boring to write about), it's time for the annual presentation of the graduation daydream. Just to give this a little perspective this year, this was the year that niece graduated. When I first posted this, she had just finished the first grade. (Yikes, I'm old.) And I mentioned the entering kindergartners were the class of 2021. Yeah, that's the entering junior class for next year.

I first posted this in 2008 (but, oddly, not last year). 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.

Thursday, June 6, 2019

Revenge is Sweet


Seventh grade science. It was a one-off period for me, and it appeared that the teacher was only out for that period plus the following. The kiddos were supposed to be working on study guides for their finals.

Being seventh graders, they came in from lunch a bit wild. I warned them to sit in their assigned seats. But, I got howls from various kiddos that their seats were not vacant. One small, timid boy informed me someone was in his seat and would not give it up.

So, I went to intervene.

The girl was downright rude about it. She was new to the class, in her assigned seat, and the boy was a snitch. Some profanity was sprinkled in to this whole thing.

The boy did get his seat. I got a glance at the girl's paper so I could let her teacher know who was so difficult. (The seating chart was far from accurate, which is probably why the teacher had hidden it from me. That's a whole other story.)

I kept an eye on Yesenia for the rest of the period, but she kept it to kicking with her two buddies. She was not the only one. Considering the year is just about over, I was impressed at how calm they mostly were.

Then one of Yesenia's buddies pulled out some bottle of something. I nixed them spraying that, so the girl pulled out a lotion instead. I don't know why Yesenia tasted it. But then she needed to wash it off her hands... ??? I was sitting there, watching, and I still am not sure what she got on her hands.

Yesenia walked over to the teacher's bench to clean off her hands. It's a science room, so the demonstration bench has a sink in it. She took some soap from a container, rubbed it in, and then went to turn on the faucet.


Most classrooms are in dire need of an update. I generally assume sinks are non-working unless told otherwise.

As Yesenia was doing the above, the other students explained a few things. First, they warned Yesenia not to use the soap. Apparently their teacher had warned them that it was not soap. Or it was soap for the desks. I don't know if they knew.

Second, the students said the sink didn't work.

The "soap" was a weird coppery color, and Yesenia said it smelled weird. And with no water to rinse it off...

I allowed her to leave the room to find water to rinse off her hands. Upon her return, she complained of redness and discomfort. Not burning, exactly, but it wasn't a nice feeling.

Am I terrible for laughing on the inside? I can't tell you how often students ask me questions that I already explained to them, stuff like "the assignment is due at the end of the period". They don't listen. So, I thought it fitting that Yesenia had missed something the teacher had obviously told them.

I did write Yesenia a pass to the health office. I may have thought she got what she deserved, but I have no idea what was in that container, and whether she had an allergic reaction or it was stuff that was not good for skin, she needed assistance so that it did remain a funny story (and not become some tragic accident).