Monday, March 31, 2008

The Hat

I promised a picture of the hat once I finished it, so here it is:

Cute, huh? If you're curious, the pattern for it is here (although, I used a different cable for the edging).

Now I get to figure out what I'm going to knit next.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Slim Pickings

With most of my TV shows on strike induced hiatus, I find my weekends rather empty.

It's the stupid DVR. It used to be that I'd watch what I could at night, and what I missed I missed. Then I got a DVR. I no longer had to choose between shows. I could record two at the same time. By the end of the week I'd have a surplus of shows to watch. And I'd spend my weekends catching up, usually watching a few hours of the week's prime time offerings.

Now, most nights I go to bed early, and everything that needs to be watched is watched and deleted way before Saturday. So, now I'm back to trolling for something to watch on the weekends. And there's nothing on. I used to find stuff to watch. I think I used to find stuff to watch.

Well, I did find something. Last Saturday and this Saturday I stumbled across a very interesting show: Download: The True Story of the Internet. It appears to be a four-parter (I've only seen parts 3 & 4), and I found it fascinating. The link will give the basic overview (just click on "about the show"), so I don't have to load this down with details.

I like shows like this. And I would have missed it entirely (probably) had it not been for my strike induced boredom.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

A Little Too Much DIY

I was out at Lowe's today (well, I was out and about everywhere, but this incident happened at the Lowe's). I had a list of things to look at, so I won't bore you with those details. What I want to discuss is what happened at check out.

I went to the registers, and there were no cashiers on duty. All that was open were the self check out machines.

I'm not sure why, but those things make me nervous. Perhaps it's too much like the old job. I like having someone there to do the checking out.

I was working my way through the transaction when I noticed a line behind me. There was no one there when I started. That made me even more nervous--I don't know what I'm doing and now people are waiting. I was so happy when I finished up.

Then, as I went to leave, I saw the one cashier on duty. I wished I had seen her earlier.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Worth It?

I hate Kitchener stitch. I hate it with a passion.

I know, I don't talk about my knitting much. My subbing stories are way more interesting. But at the moment we're on spring break, so I have no new subbing stories to relate.

I'm working on this hat. I thought that the pattern was cute, but I hated the cable that the pattern called for. That's easy enough to switch out. And then came the dreaded instruction: "join the band in a ring using Kitchener stitch or a favorite invisible seam". AAARRRGGGGGHHHHH!!!

I considered doing something that left a seam. At least then I wouldn't turn into the growling, snarling beast I become when I attempt the evil grafting. But I'm too much of a perfectionist for that.

You'd think that I'd avoid projects that use something I hate as much as Kitchener stitch. But it's like the I-cord--so very useful (yes, I hate I-cords too). And when I finish, it turns out so very nice:

Can you see where the ends join? I didn't think so.

(I'll post a pic when I finish the hat--that is, if it turns out okay.)

Friday, March 21, 2008

Positive Feedback

Today I covered two periods of 7th grade pre-algebra. Many of the students recognized me. "You covered my science class." Yep, I did.

I heard this a few times in first period, so when it was repeated in second period, I nodded knowingly. Then one boy told me this:

"You gave us a good note. Ms. M. rewarded us for it. She gave us a movie day."

I tried to explain to the boy that I did not "give" the class anything (good notes are earned), but he had moved on by then. No matter. This math class then earned a good note for themselves.

So, the science class got rewarded for being a good class. That's good to know. And now those kids know that they can get good notes from me and that they may be rewarded for their good behavior. This makes my job that much easier.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Blog Updates

I finally did it. I finally got around to adding a little something to the blog. What do you think?

The past couple days have been pretty good. I probably have stories to tell, but at the moment they're not occurring to me. I'm sure that something will strike me soon and then I'll have more to tell.

Spring break is next week. I'm looking forward to it.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Two Party System

I guess I should be used to this by now.

Friday I was at the continuation high school. US history class. They had a video on Thomas Jefferson. And in this video they discussed how the two party system got started.

Today I was at a different high school--special ed. social science classes. What was discussed? In government, the beginnings of the two party system and how it evolved. In US history, Theodore Roosevelt, William Howard Taft, Woodrow Wilson, and the election of 1912 (and how the divide in the Republican Party led to Wilson's win).

Funny. I sense a theme.

It's a weird sort of synchronicity. It's probably just because every class is in about the same spot, although they weren't, really. I found myself repeating myself in different classes even though we weren't on the same exact topic. And I found that strange.

I get these themes going. Sometimes I hit all 10th grade classes. Sometimes I hit all math classes (different levels, all math). And sometimes I hit similar topics. I wonder what theme I'll hit tomorrow.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Bad Names

I've met many students with horrible names. I wonder what their parents were thinking. But I guess there's worse.

I was subbing in a special ed. class today, and the instructional aide clicked on this story. I don't really have anything to add to this. Although, I would caution parents to not be too creative when it comes to naming their children. Remember, their teachers and substitute teachers will be calling them this throughout their school careers.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Chocolate Easter Bunnies

So, it's that time of year again. It's time to buy chocolate Easter bunnies!

I found this article rating the different bunnies for this year. I thought that it was a good public service, so I thought I'd point it out.

Saturday, March 15, 2008


I've been sitting here for ten minutes trying to decide what to write. I'm blank. I don't have anything interesting to say.

We've got one more week before we go on spring break. My district takes it after Easter.

I had a fairly sedate Friday. History classes. Video on Thomas Jefferson. There's nothing quite as boring as watching the same video four times in a row. But at least I got to finish the thing.

Thursday I already mentioned. Well, I mentioned my extra period assignment. I didn't mention the 10th grade English class I covered the rest of the day. There was no need. They were a pretty easy group.

Wednesday I had a 7th grade science class. They were also a cooperative group. And on Tuesday I did the testing, which was also easy.

Monday I did not work. I had to wait for a plumber. Kitchen sink issues.

So, I had a pretty good week. Unfortunately, that means I have no good stories.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

What Is the Color of Four?

I got sent to cover that middle school band class again. This time I was only there for one period.
It was a group of 7th and 8th graders. They were the ones who could not go on the field trip (I learned this later from their teacher). To go on a field trip, each student must get permission from each one of his/her teachers. Therefore, these kids had reasons for remaining at school.

Of course there were no lesson plans. All that was left was a movie that the kids complained that they did not like and had seen multiple times.

They wanted to play musical chairs.

Normally, I wouldn't even consider this. But the group was small, the room was large, and it would keep them occupied. It only kept them occupied for about twenty minutes.

Then they got into a strange conversation. I only half heard what they were talking about, but my ears perked up when I heard "stupid question contest". (The movie was on at this point.) I inquired further. One kid asked, "What is the color of four?" That ended the "contest".

No one got hurt. The room is intact. Roll was taken. I guess that makes it a success.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Five Stars

I rate all my classes. I have a scale. Five is the best. One is awful.

I came up with a system in an attempt to save time writing notes to the teacher. It actually worked. Unless I have a horrible class, I can give a good overview of a class's behavior in just a sentence and three scores (I also rank the classes from best to worst and note if the students were cooperative or not). And the teachers who I've talked to about it seem to like it.

Today I had 7th grade science. And the classes were pretty good (I gave out a lot of fours).

In 4th period I passed out the assignment, and then an interesting thing happened. I did not ask for silence (it was a worksheet; a little talking was to be expected), but the class quieted itself down anyway. The three or four students who kept talking were shushed by their peers. And they complied.

It was weird. If I don't insist on silence, I don't get it. But today...

So, I gave them a five. They didn't technically earn it (as they weren't silent for the whole period), but the fact that they put in the effort really impressed me.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Squeaky Shoes

My favorite pair of work shoes have started to squeak. They're black mules with a bit of heel to them. They're comfortable enough to walk or to stand around in all day. So, they may be a bit noisy, but I still wear them.

Today was a testing day. The CAHSEE. And I got to administer the test to 12 very nice students at the continuation high school. I say that the students were nice because they took the test seriously, did not argue with me, and were silent for the testing session. If only my shoes had been as cooperative.

One of the duties of a test proctor is to circulate throughout the room. So, every so often I had to walk around, mainly to make sure that everything was going smoothly (no cheating, no sleeping, and the like). And every step I took was audible.

I toyed with the idea of just going barefoot. I don't think the administration would have approved of that, though.

So, I guess it's time to replace the shoes. Either that or resign myself to the idea that I've become the biggest distraction in the testing room.

Friday, March 7, 2008


I was at the continuation high school today. It being Friday, it was a fairly laid back day. The students got some free computer time.

In one class they were playing a game that was definitely not appropriate for school. When I redirected them, I saw that this site had some other interesting games:

Click to Play!

It's amazing what you can find on the Internet.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Tech Decks

I have alluded to these in the past, but I haven't really discussed the Tech Deck phenomena.

These toys, sometimes referred to as fingerboards, are all the rage. The middle schoolers can't seem to get enough of them. They were popular 'round about 2000, but then they all but disappeared. Now they are making a reappearance in the local schools.

They are little skateboards. The kids (usually boys) use their fingertips as feet and push the things along. They'll stack books so that the boards can sail off them. They try to do the sorts of tricks that professional skateboarders do, although on a smaller scale. They're interesting little toys.

They have no place in a classroom.

Tech Decks have a very distinctive cadence. I usually hear them before I see them.

So, today, there was this boy in the back row sort of hiding behind the girl in front of him. And I heard the tapping noise I associate with Tech Decks. Instead of going to him and confronting him, I decided to make sure that I didn't have to repeat the process later.

"I hear a Tech Deck. It's a good thing that I don't see it, for if I saw someone playing with a Tech Deck, I would have to confiscate it."

It was priceless. I could see the boy slowly slink down and carefully put his toy away. I had no more Tech Deck problems that period.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

There's Always One

I was impressed and a little amazed. I had a class of 8th graders working silently on their math worksheet. I don't know how it happens (when I haven't insisted on silence), but when it does, I kind of hold my breath. Because...

"Why did it get so quiet in here?"

There's always one.

At least today she whispered it. Usually it's some boy who has to use his announcing voice to pose the question. And that's when the silence is broken. But today... Ah, today. The class continued to work quietly.

Monday, March 3, 2008


Did I mention that I had a bad day on Thursday? Today I subbed for the math teacher in this group.

There is a group of 8th grade teachers at this middle school. Each of these teachers has the same students as the others--so if a student has Ms. A for English, then he has Mr. B for history, Ms. C for math, and Ms. D for science. And since all the teachers share the same students, the teachers can coordinate with each other about these students.

It's great for the teachers. It's great for the students. It's bad for the sub who had a hard time with this group on Thursday.

At least I was prepared. I knew what I was getting into. And I made sure I had a stack of referral forms ready.

They were taking a test. I wanted silence. They decided to test me.

"My name is on my paper."

A boy announced this to the class after the class had gotten silent. It was as if he wanted to break the silence. As if? Nah. That was his intention.

Then the boy behind him announced, "Mine too."

I hope they enjoyed their stay in in-house-suspension. Clearly they wanted to be there.