Thursday, September 27, 2007

Saggy Jeans

I'm again over at the continuation high school. I hear the most interesting things here.

So, I'm watching the art class. They are supposed to be working on drawings, and in fact some are. But some aren't, and they are the ones that talk to me.

The topic up for discussion: the dress code. Students always seem to complain about the dress code. There's really nothing in it that is terribly unreasonable: nothing too revealing, nothing promoting anything inappropriate for school, and nothing gang-related. It's the third one that gets tricky. Besides the fact that some "gang attire" is fashionable, what is and is not gang-related changes.

Today, the students were complaining about the sock issue. It is against dress code to wear socks hiked up high, especially under shorts. If a student is wearing shorts, some of his leg must be visible. Why? Gang-related.

Now, I'm just taking their word for this. As I am not cognizant of the gangs, I leave these determinations up to those who know more than me. So, when the kids complain about the rules, all I can do is listen to them vent. (And enforce the rules, of course.)

Then they started complaining about sagging their jeans. This has been against dress code for a while--about as long as it's been the style (and it's been the style for a few years now). Though, every boy in the room was wearing sagging jeans (I believe the dress code states that we should not see their underwear, and I didn't).

So, I finally asked the question. "How do you keep your pants up while you're walking?" I can't tell you how many times this particular question has come up when no one of that generation was around. I finally got a chance to ask it.

They didn't see the point of the question, however. They don't have an issue with it. They either wear a belt tight enough to keep the jeans up, or they hold them up ("gangster style") as they walk. And they're so used to this that it doesn't bother them at all.

I just want to be around when the next generation comes along with their weird styles. And I want to see how these saggy-jeans kids react. That should be interesting.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Technical Difficulties

It's a video day at school today. Oh goody.

Turn on TV and VCR. Insert tape. Push play. Simple, right? It is if after doing these you get a picture. All I got was a blue screen. Not good.

Okay, now it's time to troubleshoot. Is everything plugged in? Yes. There is a wire going from the VCR to the TV. Is it connected correctly?

The TV is mounted on an arm that is attached to the ceiling. Usually I can get this contraption to turn. Not today. And of course the back of the TV is in an awkward position. Over a filing cabinet. Do I have a step ladder? Of course not.

Luckily, there is a stool in the room. That would do. I remove the stuff that is stored right in my way and I take a look. It looks like it's hooked up correctly. But no picture.

Next, is the TV set on the right setting? Playing around with the buttons on the front of the TV doesn't help, so I must go in search of the remote. That I do find (finally, something going my way!), and I try to get the TV to the right mode only to find that it was in the right mode.

Now I'm getting desperate. It shouldn't take 20 minutes to get the VCR to play. I try rewinding the tape. Yep, it needs rewinding, but that's not the problem. What is there left to do?

There is another VCR/DVD combo sitting under the TV. This is not plugged in. And the plug is out of reach (the stool won't get me up that high). But this machine has an RCA cord attached. Will it work?

So, I take the cable, attach it to the VCR at the "out" plugs, and I attach the other end to the TV. I push play. Still, blue screen.

But then I take the remote and switch the feed. Video-1. And poof: Bill Nye is speaking. I can even see him. YEAH!!! Success. Finally.

It was a good thing I went to see if the video would play during my prep today. I don't even want to think how this would have played in front of a roomful of sophomores and juniors with nothing to do but watch the fun.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Laws of Gravity

I suppose I should explain myself. I mean, I go and name my blog "Laws of Gravity" for no apparent reason. Well, there is a reason, but it's not terribly obvious.

There was this movie that came out more than a decade ago by that name. It's not a favorite movie--I never even saw it--but the title stuck with me. I have no idea how I ran into it, but I liked that title so much that I used it as the title of my personal journal. And when it came time to name my blog, it just seemed like the right choice.

Yes, I named my personal journal. I compose it on the computer (I work better typing than I do trying to hand write anything), and the file needs to be saved as something. "Diary" or "journal" is just too boring. That's just the kind of person I am.

I suppose that I liked the title because it's a physics thing. (I majored in physics in college--long story.) I studied Newtonian physics and quantum physics and all that goes with that. So, the title just caught my imagination, and I've used it since.

Hey, it's not like I'm all that good with coming up with titles anyway. I should hold on to the good ones that I already have.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Restroom Passes

"Please do not allow anyone out of class."

It's a standard request that teachers make. I understand the logic behind it. They don't want their students roaming the halls. To a student, having a sub means taking the day off, and getting to go and find a friend in a class on the other side of campus is too good an opportunity to pass up.

A student can't ask to go and talk to a friend in another class. That sort of request would be instantly shot down. So, instead the student asks to go and use the restroom.

That is part of the reason why teachers tell us subs to not allow restroom passes. And I get that. But it puts me in a difficult position. What if the student actually has to go? What if the student has to go badly?

Of course, I allow emergency restroom passes. But what constitutes an emergency? Are they taking advantage of me? I wish that there was a Magic 8 Ball or something that I could use to suss out the liars. ("Does this student really need to go?";"Reply hazy, try again.") So, since there's not, I have to err on the side of caution. I give them the benefit of the doubt.

Today I ended up leaving this long list of students who "had" to go. Okay, so it only averaged 2 students a class. For a "no passes" rule, that's a lot. It's just that I don't want to be the sub who ends up vilified on the 6 o'clock news for not permitting a student to relieve himself. I don't think the "but the teacher said not to let anyone out" excuse would get me off the hook.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

How to Be a Memorable Student

I'm in the same class as yesterday. The teacher is sick. I wish her well.

There was this kid yesterday. He is in the later periods, so I haven't seen him yet today. He caught my attention. That generally is not a good thing.

This is one of those classes where I basically sit around and watch. My job is to monitor the class and make sure they are doing what they're supposed to be doing. Some days this is a more difficult assignment than others. Yesterday and today, it has been a pretty boring assignment, but that's a good thing.

So, I sit in my chair and I watch. And I try to keep my mind occupied. What I should see when I look out across the room is a classroom full of students with their heads in their work. I should not find anyone looking back at me.

He was.

More often than not, I'd look his way, and he'd be looking back. Not good. I started with the motion I make to indicate that the student should be looking at his book and not at me. That worked once. After that I played the stare game. I'd stare at him until he would go back to looking at his assignment.

But he had his own game. He decided to have fun with my stares. He'd smile, or he'd play like there was someone behind him (and I must have been staring at them the way he played it). He even took out a paper, wrote a phone number on it, and motioned for me to "call".

He thought he was being cute. What he was being was memorable. One should not be memorable for the sub. When I remember your name, I'll write it down, and the words following won't be complimentary.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Late Call

I work as a substitute teacher. I don't think I mentioned that.

So today, like every day since school started (on the 6th in case you're keeping track) I was waiting for an early morning call. (Usually I call ahead to get assignments, but as this is the beginning of the year, planned absences are light.) When I awoke at 6:38, I figured that I was not working again today.

I laid in bed, and I panicked. It's getting close to the end of the pay period, and this check is looking mighty light. But what can I do? All I can do is wait.

Then the phone rang.

I was astounded. I figured that the sub caller must be looking ahead. So, I was pleasantly surprised when she asked, "Are you available today?" Hell, yeah! Though, I was going to be late.

School starts at 7:55 AM. If I was to get there on time (and by "on time" I mean a half hour early) I would have to leave by 7 AM. I got the call at about 6:50-something. This is very late. Usually I get called some time between 5:30 and 6. Factor in the time it takes to get ready, and that meant that I was leaving the house at the time that I should have already been at the school.

Nothing to do when you get called late. It happens. If the sub caller gets the call late, then I'm not getting the call any earlier.

I got there as quickly as I could while still getting my morning routine done (I do need to get dressed, after all). And I got there at about the same time as the final bell. What a way to start the day!

Monday, September 17, 2007

The Migraine Excuse

Saturday I went to the Harvest Festival. Yes, I'm one of those. I love craft shows.

It was crowded, but I expected that. And I didn't go crazy. I only ended up with a barrette and a bag. I had fun. I like to look at all the stuff that they show.

But, unfortunately, I did too much. Sunday I paid for it.

For years I called them three-day headaches, but I was told that I could refer to them as migraines. So, I do. Sunday I had a migraine. Well, I had part of one. It started Saturday night, continued a bit on Sunday, and today I'm just about over it. I hope.

Don't get me wrong. I wasn't in pain for all that time. Mostly I was in pain Saturday night. Sunday I was more in an awareness of the possibility of pain. And today I feel like I'm on the other side of it.

It used to be that all I could do about the pain was to sleep it off. But I've found some miracle homeopathic stuff. It really helps. So, the pain wasn't as bad as it could have been.

Anyway, that's my excuse. I didn't post because I had a headache. And if that's not a good enough excuse, you've never had a migraine (lucky you!).

Friday, September 14, 2007


Myspace is really beginning to annoy me.

I had wanted to start a blog for a while. A couple people I knew had one. And as I was in the habit of writing anyway, I thought that it would be fun. But starting, that was the issue.

So, I hemmed and hawed about it for a while. I plotted and I planned. But nothing came of it. Then my brother introduced me to myspace...

After exploring that for a while, I discovered that myspace had a blog feature. Well, I'd wanted to start a blog anyway, so that made it easy. And for the last year or so, I posted fairly regularly.

But I've reached my limit.

First it was little things. I'd write something, spend time composing it and getting it just right, and then I'd try to post it, and POOF! Gone. That was annoying, especially after attempting to post something two or three (or more!) times. But I could handle that. And it didn't happen that frequently.

Now, though, it's gotten worse. The formatting sort of vanished. One day I got onto the blog and discovered that my date formatting was different. Okay, no big deal, I went back in and fixed it. But it wouldn't fix! And the font size was too small and other options wouldn't do what I wanted them to do (and I went in to fix them numerous times).

That's annoying. Actually, that's more than annoying. That's reason enough to jump ship.

So, here I am, finally. I meant to do this for the longest time, and now I've finally done it. See, the myspace blog was the trainer. I always meant to come over here. I just needed a push. So, I suppose I should thank myspace for that push. I should, but I won't.