Tuesday, December 28, 2010

No Resolutions

I used to have a MySpace account.  I started my blog there.  But after I had a few too many technical difficulties, I moved the blog here.  I have since closed the MySpace account.  I hate to lose all of my blogs from that time, so from time to time I repost them here. 

This one was originally posted on January 2, 2007.  I was just thinking about the new year and resolutions, so I figure that this is the right time to repost this.  

I don't make New Year's resolutions.  I'm against the whole idea.

This is the time of year, of course.  Everybody starts talking about New Year's resolutions.  It's all about what they want to change about themselves in the new year.  And as we all know, in about three weeks, most of them will have given up.  So, why bother?

I don't understand it.  Well, maybe I do.  It's a new year, so people feel like they have a "fresh slate".  Start a new year off right.  Okay, I get that.

What bothers me is that these people are waiting for a new year to start something new.  Why?  Why must we wait for January 1st to begin something?  Why can't we start something on February 2nd, Arbor Day, or on our birthdays?  I mean, birthdays would make more sense.  It's the start of a new year of your life.  That's the best time to start something.

The thing is, I hate the idea of investing January 1st (or any day, for that matter) with so much baggage.  It's supposed to be fun.  (Well, December 31st is fun, January 1st is for recovery.)  Why can't we start something new when we want to?  Why can't we make a "resolution" to make a change when we're ready for the change?

So, I refuse to put the pressure on myself.  New Year's Resolutions?  Bah!  I have the power to make a change in my life at any time.  I will make changes when I am ready, not on some arbitrary start of the year date.

And yes, I still feel this way.  I have made no resolutions, and I plan to make none.  

Monday, December 27, 2010

Shopping for Calendars

I had a whole other topic planned for today, but this day kind of got away from me.  I went out in search of calendars.  I do this every year around this time.

It was the perfect day for it.  The sun finally came out after days of rain (although, I hear that we're supposed to have another storm coming in a day or two).  So, I was able to drive all over town.

First, I hit Borders.  It's the closest.  They had a pretty good selection, and the store wasn't very busy.

I was surprised by one woman who was there with purpose.  She was frantically looking through all the planners.  She picked them up one by one, looked through them, and put them back.  I found it best to step back and get out of her way.  I thought she might knock me down.

The lines weren't too long, and I got out of there quickly.  But they didn't have one calendar that I buy every year.  I thought about it.  The sun was warm.  I figured I might as well drive to Barnes & Noble.

Barnes & Noble was a different story entirely.  They had a bit less of a calendar selection, and there was a major crowd.  However, they had the one calendar that Borders didn't, so the trip was worthwhile.

And as long as I was in that shopping center, I figured I might as well hit the yarn store...

My calendars have been purchased.  It is safe for 2011 to begin.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Avoiding the Crowds

I managed to avoid most of the crazy busy holiday shopping this year.  I got done way early (yeah!).  I only braved the mall once (not for my shopping but as the shopping buddy) on Saturday.

It was dark out and raining, and I could tell that the mall had been packed earlier in the day.  The stores were trashed.  But going out after 6 PM really made an impact on the crowds we saw.  They were very much thinned out.

Yesterday, I went to see my dad.  We braved Trader Joe's to get something to fix for dinner.

Finding what we needed took under 2 minutes.  The line at the register took a bit longer.  Then it was time to leave.  There was a line of cars 5 deep waiting to get out of the parking lot.  We turned the other direction, hoping that the other exit was less crowded.

Just as we turned, an elderly lady started to cross towards her car.  She must have been over 80.  She had an older gentleman (who appeared to be her son) with her.  And they were basically crawling across the parking lot.

I laughed so hard.

Eventually, the lady made it out of our way, and we were on our way.  Of course, by then the 5 cars had already exited the parking lot.

Why is it when you want to move quickly, something has to appear to slow you down?

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

The Naming of Things

I have a terrible time naming things.  My novels-in-progress aren't titled.  I spend forever coming up with character and place names (and those are changed as soon as I come up with something better, which isn't hard).  If I had to title the chapters, I'd really be sunk.

Naming the items in my shop is a nightmare.

I know I should come up with something cute, clever, or at least creative.  What I end up with is more descriptive than anything else.

I wear my earrings to school.  Why make jewelry if you ever wear it?

One day, I wore my favorite furry earrings to the continuation high school.  Normally, no one comments on my attire.  That day, everyone did.

At least some of the comments were complimentary.

One girl told me what my earrings reminded her of: "You know, one of those things that grows in grass.  You pick them, and when you blow on them they go all over the place."  I did know what she was talking about.  Dandelions.

It occurred to me that this was the perfect name for them.  Dandelion Earrings.  So, I used it.  (You can see them here.)

I have to take the good names when they appear.  I can't seem to come up with them myself.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Stuff We'll Never Ever Need

I used to have a MySpace account.  I started my blog there.  But after I had a few too many technical difficulties, I moved the blog here.  I have since closed the MySpace account.  I hate to lose all of my blogs from that time, so from time to time I repost them here. 

This one was originally posted on July 2, 2007.  I think it's apropos as I'm about to make another batch of these cookies (in a day or two).    

I am planning on baking some chocolate chip cookies.  (You know which recipe.)  It was suggested to me that to streamline this time-consuming activity that I should do the pan cookie variation.  I thought that this was a good idea, so I looked into it.

The recipe calls for a 10 x 15 inch jelly roll pan.  First I had to figure out what a jelly roll pan was.  Once I realized that I had one I measured it.  It's 12 x 17 inches.  And this is where the math came in.

Okay, so first thing: I double the recipe.  That means that this will fill two 10 x 15 inch jelly roll pans.  So, the recipe fills an area of (10 x 15 = 150) 150 square inches.  Double that--300 square inches.  My pan has an area of (12 x 17 = 204) 204 square inches.  So, too big for a single batch, not quite big enough for a double batch.  What to do now?

I went searching for a smaller pan to make up the difference.  I had a small cake pan, but that would only give me 45 square inches more.  300 - 204 = 96.  That was not quite half.  And then I found the pie pans.  Oops.  Now I have to remember the area formula for circles (actually, not an issue--I just hate bringing pi into the equation).

Right, so the pie pans give me roughly 33 square inches (not an exact figure because of the previously mentioned pi).  I have several, so three should do the trick (or at least make it close enough).

Sigh.  Baking should not be this complicated.

I sub for math classes a lot.  And someone always complains: "We'll never need to use this stuff."  I have told them otherwise, but they don't believe me.  I've given up the argument.  But they are wrong.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Lining a Purse

It's a rather dreary Monday.  It's been raining for days.  Days, I tell you!  (This is So. Cal.  It's only supposed to rain for a couple hours at a time.)  The grayness is starting to get to me.

I have to go out later and buy bright orange fabric.

I've been working on a purse for a while now.  After I finished my Christmas knitting (which got done very early this year), I had time to work on something for me.  I had this pattern in a book I got for Christmas a couple years ago.  I'd been meaning to make it for a while, but until now I hadn't had the time.

I got through the knitting easily enough, finishing it in about a week.


But then how was I going to put it together?  I could either whip stitch it or crochet around the edges.  And it needed to be lined.  

I've been contemplating this for nearly a month.  I made a strap (because I hate I-cord, there was no way I was making the strap of the pattern).  Last week I cut lining fabric and sewed on pockets.  Yesterday I assembled the whole thing.  And I discovered that I hated what came out.  

I don't have a picture yet.  I'll photograph the thing when it's done the way I like it. 

The main problem is I hate the lining fabric.  It's a beautiful bright orange, but it's way too heavy for the purse.  It was what I had on hand from a previous project (a superhero cape that I made for my nephew).  I was trying to avoid a trip to the fabric store.  

Last night I went through my button collection to find a fastener for the flap.  I didn't find one that worked.  At least, I didn't find one that I liked.  So, I might as well go out.  

In the rain.  

Oh well.  I have to get groceries anyway.  (I'm out of eggs and milk.)  

There's no reason to make myself a purse that I hate.  If I hate it, I'll never use it.  What is the point of that?  

Saturday, December 18, 2010

A Little Knowledge...

I put up the outside Christmas lights the first weekend of this month.  I tested them before putting them out.  They lit.  No problem.  I thought that was the end of it.

My Christmas lights are the white ones in that mesh-type thing that are designed to decorate a bush or some shrubbery.  I pull them across my balconies.  It's a quick and easy way to light the balcony without twisting a single strand of lights around the railing (which I did for a couple years, but I did not like).

The night after putting up the Christmas lights, a section of them went dark.

The next day I went through and made sure all the bulbs were in place.  After touching one, the lights all came back on.  I thought I had fixed it.  I had.  For about 20 minutes.

During daylight hours, I went back to the lights to find which bulb had come loose.  It turned out one of them had burned out.  It was easy to find as the bulb had turned black.  I replaced it, and again I thought I was done.

That night, that section stayed lit for about 20 minutes.

The next day, I went to replace the burned out bulb to find that it was the same one.  So, I watched it.  When the lights were on, I could easily tell which bulb burned out as it was the brightest one on the strand.  And, of course, it burned out again.

I realized that I was going to have to replace the whole thing, because that one spot was going to continue to burn through bulbs.  But I'm kinda lazy, especially about the Christmas lights.  Having to take the whole thing down and put a new thing up was not my idea of a good solution.

What I needed was a way to bypass that one spot on the strand.

That's when it occurred to me.  What I needed to do was to somehow connect a wire through that one spot so the rest of the strand would stay lit.

I found that I could pull the bulb out of the holder that put the bulb in the strand.  I needed a wire to go across that holder to keep the electricity flowing to the rest of the strand.  This wire would bypass where a bulb would have been.  It would have been silly to sacrifice a bulb every night for 20 minutes of a fully-lit strand.

I found some old twist ties, removed the paper, cut a wire to fit just over the holder, and glued it into place.  The next day (the glue needed 24 hours to dry), I put the holder into place.  It lit.  Hooray!

I did this on Wednesday.  So far, the lights have remained lit.

This is a fix for this year only.  Next year, I'm going to have to replace that whole strand.  (Maybe next year I can find some colored lights that blink.)

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Forensic Report

Today I covered a forensics class.  Juniors and seniors.  I have subbed for this teacher before, so I knew that his classes would be, um, relaxed, as he's a very easy-going guy.

They had a writing assignment.  They were to write a report from the perspective of a crime scene investigator processing a crime scene that they invented.  They were given possible items that they could find. They were to pick 10 and include them in the report.

I thought it was an interesting assignment.  They weren't pleased.  First period wanted to argue about the assignment with the teacher.  (I asked if the teacher would then relent, and they said probably not.)

One of the things they could find was blowflies.  After having several students ask what a blowfly was, I looked it up on the Internet.  I found this site, and once I explained, they all replied the same: "Oh, right.  We did study that."

Second period wanted to know if they could use people they knew as characters in their report.  The way they asked the question made me think that not pleasant things were awaiting their characters.  The worry was that their report could be seen as a threat against the real people.  Considering the class and the assignment, I said that they were probably okay, but to be careful.  (As I'm not the one grading these things, I have to be careful as to what I say is and is not permissible.)

Then a student in fourth period asked what a matchbook was.  Have matchbooks gone out of style?  Do they no longer exist?  It troubled me a little when I got the question the first time.  After the third time, I wondered when matchbooks had become obsolete, and why I missed this.

I'm not sure when, but it was later in the day when a student asked what an apple core was.

It's interesting to see where their knowledge gaps are.  I have no idea why they don't know some of these things.  I wonder about it sometimes.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Bad Note

I used to have a MySpace account.  I started my blog there.  But after I had a few too many technical difficulties, I moved the blog here.  I have since closed the MySpace account.  I hate to lose all of my blogs from that time, so from time to time I repost them here. 

This one was originally posted on December 6, 2006.  

The class did not want me to leave a "bad" note.  Then one girl pipes up with this: "She does.  The last time she subbed I ended up having to write an essay."

And that just pissed me off...  

  1. I do not write "bad" notes.  I report to the classroom teacher what each class did.  It is up to the teacher to determine value.
  2. If the students were doing things they shouldn't have been, that is their fault, not mine.  Like a letter grade--they earn the note, I don't randomly "give" it.
  3. The class should behave.  They shouldn't try to bribe me or guilt me into writing a "good" note that was not earned.  And...  
  4. The girl who had to write an essay was TALKING during a TEST!  She got off easy.  

I shouldn't care.  I really shouldn't.  Kids are all about getting away with as much as they can.  But today my patience fell somewhere below my knees, and they just TICKED ME OFF!!!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Just Plain Mean

It's been a while since I was last in the opportunity class at the continuation high school.  There is a whole new group.  Only one student is left over from the last group.  So, they did not know me, and they did not realize that I do actually know the routine.  But, of course, this was not the issue of the day.

Ana was the issue of the day.

She started out the day as the best worker.  She finished her first assignment and asked for another.  This was a bit of a shock, as the others in class weren't working.  They were discussing their weekend and explaining to me that they could, in fact, use their cell phones in class (this I was not buying).

Then group two came in (there's one group that comes in first thing, then a second group that starts an hour later).  Oscar was in group two, and apparently he's a neighbor of Ana's.  They sat together and started discussing stuff.

I wasn't really listening, but Ana's vocabulary relies much too heavily on words best not used in school.  I told her to watch her language several times.  She'd look at me with a "what?" expression, as most of the time she didn't even realize that an F-bomb had passed her lips.

First, I told Ana to stop.  She informed me that I did not know her well enough to call her Ana.  She told me to call her Ms. Hernandez.  Then I didn't say Hernandez correctly.

She only got nastier after that.

She and Oscar were discussing something.  As is my habit, if I hear something that needs comment, I comment.  Ana informed me that I was not allowed to enter her conversation.  That was not my job.  Why she thought that she and Oscar were having some private conversation, I have no idea.

Then she objected to my watching her.

Later, I learned that she had only been in the class three days.  She had been placed in the class because she had hit someone in her other class, and they needed her out so that things could "calm down".  The office ladies are sure that she'll be kicked out of this class pretty soon.

The opportunity class is always such an adventure.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Time for the Christmas List

My favorite Christmas movie is on next week.

My favorite Christmas movie is a TV movie from 1997 called The Christmas List.  It's been on every year since, but it's been getting harder and harder to find.  I know why.  It's now 13 years old.

They come out with new Christmas movies every year.  I understand the desire to promote the new.  But they haven't come out with a movie that has surpassed it (in my opinion).

I'm not sure why it connected with me so.  Perhaps it was because that Christmas season I was still working in retail (although my retail reality was a far cry from the movie's).  Perhaps I like the idea of a wish list where all the wishes come true (albeit not in the way expected).  Or perhaps it's because it was a sweet movie in a time where I needed to see a little sweetness.

The movie played on a broadcast network initially (I forget which).  In the past few years, it made its way to ABC Family's 25 Days of Christmas.  But they've been phasing it out.  It used to play a couple of times during the season.  This year, it's only on once--Wednesday, December 15th at 4 AM.  Yep, 4 AM (that's Pacific time, but still early at 7 AM on the east coast).

That's what the DVR is for, right?

I guess it's time to find it on DVD.  Is it even on DVD?

Friday, December 10, 2010

Strange Freshmen

I need a nap.  I just spent two days subbing freshmen classes, and the teachers left me videos.

A funny thing happened, though.  Normally, I spend the day shushing students.  They don't care about the video.  It's boring.  They've seen it before.  I've heard every excuse.  But yesterday and today, I barely had an issue.  It was weird.

These were 9th graders.  It's December.  I expected to have to keep after them.  When I saw the video, I thought about all the days where I could barely hear the video because the students would not stop talking.  I put the video in, thinking the worst.  Then, I was pleasantly surprised.

There was one class yesterday that really freaked me out.  The bell rang to start class.  The entire room was silent.  They were all watching me.  Waiting.

That never happens.

I even got the other classes' attention without having to resort to my loud voice.  Once it was time to start and I asked for attention, I got it.

I probably shouldn't be talking about this.  I might jinx it.  It's weird and strange and unusual, but it's a really nice change.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Going for the Lose

Today I covered a teacher with a prep 6th period, so of course I was asked to cover an extra class (there's something about that last period of the day and getting an extra period).  It was one of the really special ed. classes.

When I walked in, the room was going wild.  The teacher, who was on her way out for a meeting, told me that all the kids had earned free time.  They had just finished making hot chocolate, and they offered me some.  The teacher explained who I would need to be with when it was time to catch the bus, and she pointed out one student who would need to be escorted to the office, as the teacher was having the meeting with that student's parents.

That boy latched onto me.  He wanted to know if he could do a puzzle.  Then he wanted to go on the computer.  He flitted about until he decided that he wanted to play a game.  Would I play, too?

First he pulled out a game I'd never heard of.  He got the whole thing set up, then decided that he'd rather play something else.  After setting up three different games, we finally got started playing Chutes and Ladders.  A girl in class joined us, so we had three.

We each had two turns when the boy decided that he wanted to play a different game.  The girl and I were into the game at this point, so I let the boy flit away again, and the girl and I continued.

Early on, I got ahead of her.  This was one of those times when I really wanted to lose.  I wasn't about to cheat, either.  Luckily, the girl got the really long ladder, and she won the game.

I had to be careful with her, though.  She hasn't really got the whole counting thing down.  If she got a 5, she would move forward 3 or 4, so I made sure I counted spaces with her.

After she won the first game, we decided to play another.  That's when the new TA joined us.  He was special ed. too, but older.  It was his birthday today, and he had to tell me all about what he was going to get for his present.

The first boy came back.  He wanted me to escort him next door.  I told him I couldn't as I was in the middle of my turn.

I managed to win the next game (and I tried so hard not to).  Then we moved on to Candy Land.  The girl bored of the game, so it was just the TA and me until it was time to clean up.

I don't often sub in the severely handicapped special ed. classes.  It's an exhausting day, even for just one period.  The kids can be sweet, though.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Better than a Tattoo?

8th graders are strange.

It was a U.S. history class, and for 8th grade that means from Columbus to the Civil War.  The section of the book they were in discussed the Missouri Compromise and the election of 1824.  They were supposed to be reading and taking notes, but these were 8th graders, so I found it useful to do the notes with them.

Before they did the notes, they were to study their flashcards for 10 minutes.  This meant that I had to go to each set of partners, remind them that they should have flashcards out, and explain the concept of what studying flashcards meant.  "I should see you showing the card and hearing an explanation of what each term means."

After one circuit of the room, they were all on task.

Some groups wanted me gone, and so were clearly doing what they needed to do.  Some groups wanted to interact with me.

One boy showed me the palm of his hand.  From a distance, it looked like he had written "HI" on it in blue fine-point Sharpie using dashed lines.  Up close, I could see that he had used thread to stitch the "HI" into his palm.

Insert incredulous reaction here.

I tried not to visibly react.  Why had he stitched it into his hand?  He hadn't gone deep enough to draw blood, but he had gone under some of his skin so that the thread would stay attached.  At least, I don't think he used glue on it (but that's a much more comforting thought).

The only answer I got to, "Why in the world would you do that?" was, "It's cool."  Then he showed it off to all his peers.  Many of them didn't understand why he had done it, either.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Know-It-All Freshmen

I could tell that the teacher had called out sick this morning.  I got the call fairly late.  The principal had put together the subbing book (he had written the teacher's name on the sticky note).  The lesson plan had been emailed, and it had a few errors in it.  

The teacher was prepared.  She had put the agenda up on the board before she left for the weekend.  That's where I noticed the error.  The lesson plan said that the class was to outline chapter 10.3, but the board said that they were on chapter 12.  Oops.  

Unfortunately, this was the 9th grade class.  

9th grade is a weird time.  They're in high school, but I've found that the more I treat them like middle schoolers, the easier my day goes.  And they think they know everything.  

When they arrived, I explained the situation.  I told them that I knew that they weren't in chapter 10.  They told me that I must be reading the lesson plan for the wrong class.  

Yes, the 11th graders were in chapter 10.  That was the 5th period class.  I could tell the difference between 1st period (at the top of the page) and 5th period (at the bottom of the page).  I wasn't reading the lesson plan wrong.  The lesson plan had the error.  

(Usually, at this point I'd let them read the lesson plan, but I wasn't in the mood to take the page around and show it to each of the 39 students in class.)  

So, I told them to outline chapter 12.3.  But now this was wrong.  They were only in chapter 12.1 or 12.2 (it changed depending upon which student was speaking).  Their teacher had started giving them notes, but she hadn't finished.  My suggestion that maybe she wanted them to do the next section on their own and she'd finish giving them notes on the other two sections met with harsh disapproval.  No, she didn't mean that.  

I told them to outline something.  Anything.  If they weren't going to take my interpretation of the lesson...  (Which they should do, really.  If I tell them the wrong thing to do and they do it, I'm the one that gets blamed for the error.)  

At least I only had one class of 9th graders.  And the rest of the lesson plan contained no errors.  

Friday, December 3, 2010

Late to the Test

Before I begin, I need to explain a few things.  There are certain school policies that I haven't alluded to before, and I need to spell them out for this post to make sense.

  1. Tardy sweep:  Students who are not in class at the bell are not allowed in class.  They go to a place called tardy sweep.  They spend the whole period there.  
  2. Rally schedule:  Instead of having a full assembly, the school sometimes has a rally.  This lasts about 20 minutes and is scheduled between 2nd and 3rd periods.  Each period loses a minute or two.  Each passing period loses one minute (5 minutes instead of 6).  
  3. The current version of the computer-scored (using a #2 pencil fill in the bubbles) multiple-choice tests are now pre-printed with student names.  The computer can score and record the tests at the same time.  
Today, I covered a U.S. history class.  There was a bit of an overlap of students from the physics classes.  

Before school, I saw the teacher.  (I gave him a heads up that a prank was in the works.)  He explained the day's lessons.  3rd period, the A.P. class, was having a test.  80 questions.  Multiple-choice.  Due to time constraints, he puts the tests out on the desks before the class arrives, and while it was not mandatory, he told me that it might make things easier for everyone if I did the same.  

I had a seating chart.  I had extra time due to the rally.  It didn't take all that long to pass things out, especially when I didn't have students to trip over.  

As the students walked in, I told them to make sure they had their test.  Only two students had to swap, so I guess I did an okay job.  Then the bell rang, but much of the room was still empty.  

The campus is rather large.  This classroom was back-of-beyond.  It's the second to the last farthest room on campus.  It's a hike to get there.  That shortened passing period was a bad thing.  Some students just couldn't make it there in time.  

Many of them got there just after the bell.  Normally, I would send them to tardy sweep, but considering the circumstances, I let it slide.  It took them another minute to all arrive, and in three the room was silent.  They were all working on that test.  

After about five minutes, I went around and picked up tests off desks where the students hadn't arrived.  I looked at the three names, and I was about to go and enter the attendance when another student showed up.  

Ah, what to do?  As it turned out, she was in the band, and they performed at the rally, so I let her in.  A minute later a second student showed up.  

I looked at the third test.  What were the odds that this girl would show up?  I was just about to give up and input the attendance when she did arrive.  She was wearing a cheerleader uniform, so I knew what kept her.  

I was kind of worried as to whether they'd finish the test.  They did.  Many finished with ten minutes to spare. 

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Planning the Prank

Today was day 2 in the physics class.  They had bookwork.  Most were doing it, but some were not.  A couple of the boys had an interesting conversation going.

The boys are both on the soccer team.  They are going to some tournament this weekend.  It's far enough away that they'll be in a hotel for a night.  The thing that piqued my interest was that their coach is the teacher I'm subbing for tomorrow (yea, I know an assignment a day ahead!).

The boys had an idea.  Since they are both seniors, they thought it would be funny to plan a prank to play on the coaches while they are away.  One said that they should bring a set of white sheets from home.  Then they could plant fake blood on it.  If they hid a couple players on the team and said that they had no idea where they were...

I wasn't sure where I should come down on this.  On the one hand, funny, if done right.  On the other hand, this sort of thing could go wrong pretty quickly.  The boys realized this too.  They know that their coach has a cell phone, and once the coach calls 911, it's no longer a silly prank.

They discussed variations of the fake blood/missing student scenario.  They thought maybe getting a student fake bloodied might work.  But then the discussion turned to other ideas.  The next idea was to get the desk staff involved.

They thought that once it was lights out time, they should get the staff to call the coach every five minutes with a noise complaint, but from a different room each time.  But the idea was that they were to be silent, so the noise complaints were false.  I didn't see how this was funny, but they thought it was hilarious.

The end of the period ended their plotting with no definite plans.  They said that they had a long bus ride to think up other ideas.

I wonder if they'll go through with it.  If they do, I hope they don't do anything too over-the-top.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Physics Class

Student: "Do you understand physics?"

Me: "Yes."

Student: "Really?"

Because, apparently, I would lie about such a thing.

No, not really.  I think she was expecting a different answer, and needed me to say yes again to verify that she had heard me correctly.

I got to cover a physics class today.  Insert happy dance here.  Unfortunately, it was like just about any high school class I cover.  I spent the day trying to get them off of their strange conversations and back to the subject at hand.

Mostly, they worked on the assignment.  A few asked for my help.  But during 6th period, no one would ask me anything.  They asked each other, but not me.  Sniff.

They had this attitude about it.  It's not like the sub knows anything.  Go away while we do our work.  We're honor students.  We're smarter than you.

Okay, I'm projecting.  I'm in a bit of a strange mood today.  I guess I've been spending way too much time alone.  It's a good thing I worked; I needed to get out of the house.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010


At the beginning of the period, Madison came up to me and asked if I could sit with her at her table.  (I've got another story associated with that art class two weeks ago.)  Since it was a class of 30+ seventh graders, I knew that that would be a bad idea.  I told Madison no, as I needed to keep my eye on the whole class.

Madison was special ed.  It wasn't immediately apparent, but when I had covered the class the previous week, Madison had had a one-on-one aide that sat with her.  Her behavior over the two days I covered the class confirmed why she needed the aide in class.

The aide did not show up on the Tuesday, and she was only in class briefly on the Wednesday.  I got to handle Madison all on my own.

I already mentioned the boys.  They were at a table next to Madison's, but it was a different table.  When Madison complained that the boys were discussing horror movies (because this scared her), I told her not to listen to them.  She had turned around in her chair so that she could participate in their discussion, ignoring her table-mates.

Madison was more interested in getting offended by the boys' discussion.

As I could do nothing else short of sending Madison from class (the room was full so there was no place I could move her to), I continued to circulate through the room.  I got called back by Madison's table-mates.  She was throwing colored pencils at them.

Madison held onto a gold pencil, refusing to give it up (I took all the pencils away from the table).  Eventually, she relented, but she sure didn't want to.

The next day, the gold pencil became the bone of contention.  One of Madison's table-mates was using it.  She wanted it.  I explained that she could have it once the boy was finished with it.  But that wasn't good enough.  She had to have it right then.

The other girl at Madison's table found a gold pencil from another table's stash.  They were used to her, I guess.  They were also sick of having to deal with her.

I wrote a whole page about Madison in my note to the teacher.  I have a feeling that none of her behavior was unusual.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Finished Scarves

Back in September, I posted pictures of my scarves in progress.  I never did get around to posting the finished product.

First up was the lacy scarf...


...which gave me so much trouble.  Unfortunately, it doesn't photograph all that well.  But, I was able to finish it with minimal mistakes.  After getting about a third of the way through it, I figured out how to read where I was in the row, and the scarf suddenly got a whole lot easier.

The other scarf...

diamond scarf finished

...turned out to be one of my favorites.  Once I figured out what I was doing wrong, and once I got the hang of the pattern, it went pretty smoothly.  I finished it at the beginning of this month (the lacy scarf was finished about a week later).

And now I'm again in the position of being between projects.  (This is a bad thing.)

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Christmas Decor

I've been waiting for the right time to post this...

Our Neighbors outhouse while remodeling 2009

This photo was taken by my father last year.  His neighbor was remodeling during the Christmas season.  Like how he decorated?

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

The End of the World

Last week, I covered an art class on Tuesday and Wednesday.  The last two periods were high school classes.  The first three were middle school.

The first group of the day were 7th graders.  They were a loud group.  7th graders can't regulate their volume.  They're either silent or rock concert.  There is no in between.

I tried to keep circulating, but I found that most of the time I ended up at the front of the room.  I was trying to keep peace between two tables.  One table spent most of the time talking about horrible and gross things.  This bothered a girl at another table, but she's a whole post of her own.

The boys started talking about horror movies.  I told them that zombies, if real, wouldn't ever take over.  Then they moved on.  They ended up talking about the end of the world.  The whole 2012 thing has gotten way too much publicity, and the kiddos are scared.

As always, I attempted to talk them off the ledge.  I tried explaining that the end of the world has been predicted so many times that there's no need to believe in it now.

William wasn't buying it.  He had a dream where the moon blew up and...  Here's where my understanding gets foggy.  There was something about how the moon blowing up led to the Earth falling and an ice apocalypse or us being pushed into the sun.    It made no sense.

So, I attempted to explain some things about gravity.  I explained that the Earth was falling, right at this moment, through space.  Just as the sun is.  Just as the whole solar system is.  Just as the whole Milky Way galaxy is.  And gravity keeps us attached to the planet Earth.

William kept coming up with doomsday scenarios, and I kept explaining them away.  Maybe after 8th grade science, some of his fears will be dispelled.  I hope so.

Then again, it could have just been random talk to pass the time.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Rudolph the Red-Nosed Bull Moose

This week the district is closed.  I needed it after last week.  Because of the Harry Potter preview showing Tuesday night, I never mentioned my assignments on Tuesday and Wednesday.  Well, I can't let that pass...  

Tuesday and Wednesday I covered an art class.  Fifth period was a beginning high school art class.  They were working on an interesting thing called a Doodle Noodle.  They made a large scribble on the page, and then in the loops and whatnot, they were to add designs.  I so wish I had a picture of this, for it's hard to describe, but it was an interesting project.  

They were talking and working.  I wasn't paying much attention until I heard one table start a strange story.  

Annie was explaining how she dyed a pool of water.  She added the salt dye to the pool, and then she "Mitched" it up.  

She misspoke.  She meant "mixed".  Instead of admitting that she misspoke, she acted as if she meant to say "Mitched".  

Annie explained that she held Mitch by the legs and used him to stir the dye.  He held out his hands, so she only had to rotate him, kind of like a helicopter motion.  But then since Mitch was underwater, she had to make sure to get him air so that he wouldn't drown.  

The story got more complex from there.  By the time I got over to that table several minutes later, Mitch had died in the pool.  He had been killed by some bull moose.  I don't know how the bull moose got into the picture.  Annie explained, but I couldn't follow the logic.  

Annie had drawn the bull moose.  It was the "doodle" of the Doodle Noodle she was working on.  The dyed-blue pool was the eye, and the nose was red.  

I guess you had to be there.  

The next day, Annie's table asked her about Mitch.  Annie took the drawing home to show her family.  There was an accident with the stove.  Mitch, the bull moose, and the drawing were no more.  

Sometimes they talk utter nonsense.  I don't much care, so long as they got their work done.  (They did.)  

Monday, November 22, 2010

I'm So Honored

Thank you JEFritz for the lovely award...

She's got a great blog called Still Writing...  Check it out.

The rules are to acknowledge the giver and pass it on.  So, I award this to...

1. KauaiMark's Just a Substitute Teacher...  He's got some great subbing stories.  He's so much braver than me.  He actually teaches elementary students.

2. Eric's Welcome to My Mind.  Mostly because he's one day older than me, and I miss him since he moved away.

3. Emily's Spinning Threads.  Just because.

And an honorable mention to Heather's My Demon Spirits in hopes that she'll get back to it and post again.  (Seriously Heather, you don't have to post all the time.  Once in a while is okay.)

Saturday, November 20, 2010

The Balloon Explanation

Yesterday I was back at the continuation high school.  I was surprised to get called.  It was a short day before a break.  These are the sorts of days that very few teachers miss.

I ran into the teacher I subbed for on Monday.  (I saw her on Thursday, but as it had been Turkey Day, we didn't get a chance to talk.)  She got my note, and she wanted to relate a story about the balloon incident.

It was some time ago.  Somehow, they obtained a blown up balloon.  It was near the end of the period, they were done with their work for the day, and they started volleyball-ing this balloon.  The entire class was entranced, and they kept the balloon floating in the air.  The room was silent as they were all fixated on this one task.

Ms. W. allowed it.  Once.

So, they were telling the truth, sort of.  They stretched that inch into a mile.  Silly teens.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

A Wonky Turkey Day

It's that time of year again.  Today was Turkey Day at the continuation high school.

The administration puts on a school-wide movie to entertain the students while we wait to be called.  The TV in the classroom has to be hooked up to the in-school "network" for us to be able to see it.  When I finished showing 1st period a video in the VCR, I had to switch the cable so that instead of connecting to the VCR, it connected to the in-school "network".

It's harder to explain than to do.  When the teacher told me that he was going to send over the school's tech guy to do it, I told him that I could manage.  I did.  Unfortunately, there was some interference in the picture.

The students were annoyed by this (we could see the movie, it just wasn't completely clear).  They wanted it fixed, so I called the office.

I told them: "The picture is a bit wonky.  Could someone come and take a look?"

Michelle thought my word choice funny.  She had never heard the word "wonky" before.  She wondered if it was a real word.

I was startled.  She'd never heard "wonky" before?  I understand when these students haven't heard long academic words before, but "wonky"?

I spelled the word for her.  Told her that it was indeed a real word.  She took my word for it.

The tech guy did come, and rather quickly too.  However, the problem righted itself just before he got to class, so he wasn't needed.

(This wasn't my first Turkey Day.  I blogged about previous years here and here.)

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

An Early Harry Potter Showing

I think it was Sunday, although it might have been this past Saturday.  My father called to invite me to go with him to see Harry Potter.  On Tuesday.

Well, yeah.

My father gets into preview shows all the time, and he's seen everything from Due Date to The Blind Side before they open.  Since his wife wasn't interested in this movie, my dad invited me.

We got there in good time, not so early as to be the first in line, but early enough so that we weren't at the back of that line.  We waited.  As Dad has been to many of these things, he noticed that things weren't running as smoothly as they usually do.  He told me that the ones running the show clearly weren't the A team.

Once we got into the theater, we got some inadvertent pre-show entertainment.  The lady in charge of crowd control was a little too eager enforcing "the rules".

We first noticed this when she got into a "I'm going to have to call security" argument with a gentleman on the other side of the theater.  She wanted him to move towards the center of the aisle so as to allow as many people in as possible.  "No empty seats!"

The couple in front of us enjoyed this a little too much.  They already had popcorn.  The man had some great biting remarks.  The woman's only objection was that the crowd control chick might hear.  The couple next to us knew why: "No seat for you!"

The lady on crowd control was a bit of a snob as well.  There was a section cordoned off for "VIPs".  When some "VIPs" with yellow tickets arrived, she was audibly relieved.  She was tired of dealing with "the masses".

Part of me can understand the crowd control chick's perspective.  I deal with unruly students who don't want to follow the rules all the time.  But the woman of the couple sitting next to us was also a teacher, and she thought the crowd control chick was a bit over the top.  She thought that CCC could have been a lot more polite.

The show started a bit late.  The "VIPs" didn't fill their section.  CCC moved the couple in front of us to the VIP section.  (If she had only heard the things they said about her!)

As for the movie, it was fantastic, of course.  Dark.  Emotional.  The action sequences were a bit frenetic, so much so that it was hard to discern what was happening on screen.  I could tell that they intended for it to be 3D as certain scenes flew in our faces.

I was curious as to where they'd divide the movies.  So as to not give spoilers, all I'll say is that the movie ends in chapter 24.  It kind of left us hanging, except for the fact that I read the book, so I do know how it ends.

I'm going to see it again on Friday.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

A Balloon in Class

It was 4th period yesterday.  World history.  We read through the section of the chapter that was assigned.  Then they were supposed to define all the key terms.

"Could you write that up on the board so I don't forget?"

This wasn't the sort of assignment that one has trouble remembering, but it was an easy enough thing to do.  I should have realized that it was a set up.

As soon as my back was turned, I heard it.  Once I faced the class again, I saw it.  They were batting a gold-colored balloon around the room.

"But Ms. W. always lets us!"

Um, right, sure.

I retrieved the balloon.  I made sure that it was completely out of the way.  They had work to do, I reminded them.  They should get to it.

I would have never known where the balloon came from, except then the student pulled out another one (this time it was dark blue).  I heard him blowing it up.  I put a stop to that.

Why was he bringing balloons to school?  He told me that he found them in his pocket.  They were left over from a baby shower (I think he said his sister's).

At the end of the period, he retrieved the blown-up balloon, and the game resumed.  (It was the end of the period, so I let it slide.)  The student acted like he wanted to keep the balloon, yet it was still in the room after all the students had exited.  I made sure it wasn't around to tempt 5th period.

I had been warned about this group.  (By the way, these were all juniors and seniors, all over the age of 16.)  I wonder how entertained their teacher will be by the balloon story.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Keeping Track of the Readers

I finally knew about an assignment in advance.  7th grade core (that's the same group for two periods--one period of English and one period of world history).  I've subbed for this teacher before, so I knew what to expect--squirrelly, squirmy kids.  I was kind of dreading it. 

However, my phone rang this morning.  The sub caller wanted to switch me to the continuation high school (naturally).  I was saved!

The assignment for the world geography classes was to read a section out of the textbook together.  I was also instructed to take down names of readers as they got credit for reading aloud in class.   It was a pretty standard assignment, and things went smoothly. 

This made me think of another day when I had a similar assignment.  It was a home ec. class.  We were supposed to read out of the book, and students who read got credit for reading.  I took down the names of readers as instructed. 

I ran into the teacher a couple days after this.  What surprised me was how grateful she was that I took down the names of readers.  I was just following the lesson plan.  It made me wonder.  Were there other subs out there who didn't take down reader names?  Why would they not follow the lesson plan? 

What surprises me the most today is how many of the students' names I do know.  (If I'm not sure, I ask.) 

It's been a rather uneventful day so far.  That's good.  Although, I hear the next group is supposed to be the worst group. 

Saturday, November 13, 2010

I Should Explain...

I've never been much of a talker.  I tend to listen.  I learn all sorts of interesting stuff that way.

I'm also not much of a commenter.  If I find I have something to contribute, I will, but most of the time I feel like my comment isn't really needed.  Others have said similar and phrased it better.

Since Theresa's Halloween Haunting, I'm following a few more blogs.  I actually read them.  But I don't comment much.  I realized that I may not be alone in this.

I love Blogger's reactions options.  I thought they were a great idea the first time I saw them.  I added the usual comments.  Now I've added a new one.

I've added a "Hi!" reaction.  I hope that those of you who stop by will consider clicking on it.  And if you have any other good reaction ideas, I'd love to hear them.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Greatest Hits

"Today is Monday and Friday all rolled into one."

A student in first period said this.  He was commenting that they all had yesterday off in honor of Veteran's Day but had to come back to school today.  I thought it rather clever.  It was that kind of day.

This week has been very slow.  Today was my only day subbing.  Many teachers took today off.  So did quite a few students.  One class had a third of the students absent.

Certain themes keep repeating.

In third period, a student started singing a song.  He was two notes in when I recognized it and asked him to stop.  When asked why, I explained.  He was kind enough to refrain, sort of.  Two other students asked which song, and so he had to hum a bit.  Then those students hummed a bit.  But it was over fairly quickly, and I didn't have to hear the thing again.

Then in fourth or fifth period (those classes kind of ran together in my head) we had a bee visitation.  Only one student freaked out and ran from the room.  This was a much larger class than the last time, but I had much calmer students.  Somehow, the football player managed to shoo it outside.

I mention the football player, as his team made CIF.  All day he's been asked who they're playing in the game next week.  He doesn't know yet, not until games are played this weekend, but he's sick of the question.  So, he started answering with random teams.  Ol' Miss.  LSU.  The Vikings.

They asked me (in third period) what age of students I prefer.  Since they were seniors, I said seniors.  Then I qualified, telling them that I like seniors until the spring, when they can smell graduation.  A couple of them claimed that they started counting down to graduation in September, but have since stopped.  My point was made.

It was a strange day.  But I'm glad I got to work.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

She Asked What?

I'm not sure why, but this post has been on my mind.  Since I have nothing of interest to say today, I'm presenting another repost Tuesday.  The following was first posted on September 7, 2008.  

Since the kitchen has been down, we've been going out to eat a lot. It's easier than trying to wash dishes in the bathroom sink. Tonight we ended up at Chili's.  

I was fighting off a headache, so I was a bit more cranky than usual. Unfortunately, we got seated right behind a group of girls who were out to have a good time. Loudly.  

Chili's is normally loud. These girls were louder. And they were cackling like they had had a bit too much to drink. When they laughed, they just had to hit the back of their seat which was right up against my seat. It was worse than the day I was at Ruby's behind the young child who would not sit still. (At least in that case I could forgive the child for not knowing any better.)  

Because our tables were back to back, we had the same server. After he had brought us our drinks, he went to take their order.  

I guess the girls thought he was cute. They were very obviously flirting. They asked if the server was married.  He was. Then they asked his age and how long he'd been married. These questions were getting more and more personal. And then one of the girls came out with this impertinence:  

"Have you cheated on her yet?"  

Seriously. They asked that. My jaw just about hit the table. (I was so astonished I did not hear how he responded. I hope he gave them a very rude answer.)  

Some people. I mean, really.  

Friday, November 5, 2010

A Crazy Day

I kind of knew it was coming.  When I got the call this morning, I had a feeling that was subbing for a roving teacher.  Turned out I was right.

Several teachers at this one high school don't have their own classrooms.  They must share.  For three periods, they have a "home room".  For the other two, they take over the room of a teacher who has his/her prep that period.  (This is much better than in previous years when these teachers had to travel for every period, but that's another post.)

I went in search of lesson plans.

First, I went to the teacher's first room.  The teacher in there said that he hadn't left lesson plans there.  Also, he told me it was an assembly day.  Oh, great.

Then, I went to the teacher's "home room" where he teaches 4th, 5th, and 6th periods.  No lesson plans there, either.  I found videos, but nothing else.

So, I went back to the secretary.  I asked her if she had gotten the lesson plans emailed.  No.  But she called the department chair, and he had them.  So, I had to trudge to the back far corner of the school to retrieve the plans from him.  (This school is rather large.  I worked up a good sweat walking all over the campus.)

The videos were the lesson plan, so I went back to the teacher's "home room" to get the video I'd need.  1st period had started by now, so I walked in on another teacher's class.  I hate doing that, but I made sure my interruption was as quick as could be.  (They were just getting started, so I didn't actually bother the class.  That made me feel a whole lot better.)

1st period was the prep, so I went back to the teacher's lounge to cool off and relax for a bit.  Once I got 2nd period started, I thought I had had my excitement for the day.  I was dreading the assembly, but other than that...

It was nearly the end of the period when we had the earthquake.  It was pretty mild--a jolt and that was about it--but it was enough to get the mostly freshman class riled up.  (It wasn't like they were really watching the video anyway, but I had been dealing with that.)  They didn't call for an evacuation, and most of the students and teachers we asked later hadn't felt the thing.

It was a relief to get to the assembly.  Really.

The assembly was the typical fall sports deal, with the extra added bonus of them retiring the jersey/number of a former student who made it to the NFL.  It was one of the better assemblies that I've attended, even if the gym was as hot as an oven.  (We're having unseasonably warm temperatures.  It got into the 80s today, but that was a relief as it was hotter yesterday and the day before.)

Then all I had to deal with was wound up students on an assembly Friday with a video as the lesson plan.  I was grateful to work, but boy, am I grateful that this day is over!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

This Again?

It was 5th period yesterday.  I had just finished helping a student with a problem.  I noticed that the three boys sitting behind her didn't have books or work out, and it didn't look like they were going to start any time soon.  It was time to lay on the guilt trip that never works.

That's when I saw the boy at the end of the row using his cell phone.

I'm too nice.  I know I am.  Instead of confiscating his cell phone, I gave him a warning.  I told him if I saw him with his cell phone again, I would confiscate it.

Later in the period, the girl needed my help again.  (She was working on algebra word problems.)  I glanced at the boy.  He had his hands below his desk in "the position".

I didn't want to get into it with him again.  I pretended I didn't see...until he took the cell phone out from under his desk.  He was clearly texting.

I went over to him to confiscate it.  He cried foul.  ("I didn't see you there.")

He didn't want to give up his cell phone.  I warned him that this would result in a referral.  He told me he was turning his cell phone off as he finished the text that had gotten him caught in the first place.  (As if I don't know that it only takes him hitting one button to turn the thing off.)  Then he reluctantly turned it over.

I had enough time to hide the cell phone under some papers on the teacher's desk before it was time to clean up.  The bell rang, the class filed out, and the boy came up to me to talk me into giving him his cell phone back.

I guess I'm too nice.  He seemed to think he'd succeed.  It was a good thing the phone was hidden, or else I'm sure he would have picked it up and left the room.  As it was, he tried every trick he could think of from bribery ("I'll give you a dollar") to begging ("But I need it after school") to the old broken record trick.  He even asked for that referral instead.

He spent the entire five minute passing period trying to wheedle the phone back.  When the bell rang, I asked if he had a 6th period.  He said he did.  I told him he'd better get to class.  He asked me for a note excusing him from being late.  (I refused.)

I did have 6th period off, so I immediately went to the office and turned in the offending phone.  I wasn't terribly surprised when the boy returned just before 7th period.

I explained that I had turned his phone in to the office.  He said it wasn't there.  Who did I turn it in to?  Where was it now?  I was lying.  It wasn't there.  I had to still have it.  Couldn't I just give it back to him now?

I didn't know what else to say.  If he didn't believe the truth...

He warned the incoming class that I was a terrible person, and that they should guard their cell phones.

I didn't have another cell phone problem in 7th period.  I didn't think I would.  The last student I confiscated a cell phone from was in class.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

I Meant to Do That

Today's temps are supposed to get into the high 80s to low 90s.  It was a cool night and cool morning, so I left the classroom door open for 1st and 2nd periods.  At the beginning of 3rd period, I could feel the heat starting, so I turned on the air conditioner. 

I barely walked away when a student turned the a/c off. 

I turned around and turned the a/c back on. 

"Why did you do that?" 

She asked me that.  I told her I was warm.  She said that she was warm, too.  I didn't understand why she'd turn the a/c off then.  She said that she wanted to stay warm. 

I'm the teacher.  I win this battle.  If I want the a/c on, it stays on. 

I have to be the one to decide this.  No matter what, there are some students who will not be pleased.  Even when I try to be nice and not keep the room at the temperature that is comfortable for me (I generally run warm, so comfortable for me tends to be cold for most of the girls), I get complaints. 

Besides, I'm the one in the room all day. 

It was so much easier when the classrooms didn't have their own thermostats.

Monday, November 1, 2010

The Deadline Is Looming

For some strange reason, I'm not getting called to work on Mondays.  I'm not sure what it is.  Maybe the teachers are all rested up after the weekend.  Then again, the day might just be slow enough that only the laid off teachers work.

That's okay.  I have a newly finished knitting project to brag about.

I'm chipping away at my Christmas knitting.  I hope to have it all done this month.  I had hoped to have it done by the end of summer, by the end of September, by Halloween...  I might actually finish it by the end of this month, though.  It's better than in previous years.  There have been years when I'm only now just getting started.

I was stuck when coming up with something to knit my newest nephew (he's 6 months old), so I asked his parents.  His mom suggested a soft blanket for him to cuddle.

I went online looking for patterns.  Then I saw this one.  I had already bought the yarn called for in the pattern, so I had my project.

I finished it yesterday...

for Griffin

I'm not so sure about the face.  I don't know much embroidery.  This was my best attempt.

I feel like the finish line is in sight.  I've only got two projects left to go and then I'm done.  And those projects are near to done.  I might actually have some time in December to knit just for me.  What a luxury!

Friday, October 29, 2010

New Voters?

Friday at the continuation high school.  Most of the students either bought out or just didn't show, so the classes were even smaller than normal.  It was a very peaceful day.

Unfortunately, this doesn't make for an interesting post.

It was Tuesday or Wednesday when one student started railing against politicians.  He was dissatisfied with the state of what he heard on the news.  It was too much Tiger Woods and not enough stuff that really mattered.

I asked him if he was going to vote.  No.  (Well, first I asked if he was over 18.  He was.)  He wasn't going to buy into all of that.  I told him that he could vote the idiots out of office.  He wasn't interested.

Various election subjects came up during the week.  Many of the students were mixed up about the various races.  I clarified that there was a governor's race and a race for the Senate.  (They thought Whitman, Brown, and Boxer were all in the same race.)  They had seen the ads, but I don't think they were paying attention.  And they weren't going to vote anyway...

So, I was surprised yesterday when one girl started in on who she was going to vote for.  She was really fired up.  She had one issue that she was interested in--the death penalty.  She's against, and that's her only criterion for who she's going to vote for for governor.

I stood there and let her talk.  I pointed out that there were other races as well and that she should research where those candidates stood on her issue.

I was glad that there was one student who was into this election.  It's so much better than apathy.  I don't even care if I agree with the students or not.  I just want to see them involved.

There is one thing that they are fired up about, though.  Proposition 19.  So, I was surprised when the boy sitting next to this girl told me about the evils of that proposition.  Of course, he's not registered to vote.

(I've been hearing about Proposition 19 from them for months.  Mostly, the sentiment I've heard is pro.)

It's too bad that the topic didn't come up earlier.  Those who are over 18 could have gotten registered and voted if they had only known about it before the deadline.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

A Few Blog Updates

As I was writing my post on Monday, I had a thought.  I sub at the continuation high school a lot.  There are about 15 teachers there.  Why don't I label those posts with regard to which class I was in? 

Things kind of snowballed from there.  Today I thought it time to point out a few of the "improvements" I've been making to the blog. 

First off, I went through and tried to label those posts with the class they belonged to.  I wasn't completely successful as sometimes the post wasn't about the class but was about some other aspect of the school.  (This week I've been in the government class.  I've also spent a lot of time in one of the English classes and the science class.) 

Then, I started a glossary.  There are certain terms specific to the schools/area where I work, so rather than explaining them each time I use them, I think it'll be easier to link to that page.  This is a work-in-progress.  The list isn't yet complete (I wonder if it ever will be), and I'm still working on getting the formatting right. 

Finally, I linked to a couple short stories I posted on scribd.  These are on the sidebar under "My Short Stories".  Please check them out.  Feel free to tell me what you think. 

That's the thing about a blog.  It has to continue to be a work-in-progress.  There are always things to add.  There are always ways to improve. 

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Cell Phone Drama

The cell phones have been getting to me lately. 

I don't know what it is about teens and cell phones.  Add a sub to the mix...  Anyway, I've had it, so on Monday I gave them fair warning.  I reminded them that cell phones out in class were subject to confiscation. 

It was 4th period yesterday when I saw a student pull out his cell phone.  I went over to retrieve the device to confiscate. 

He started in with the excuses.  His mother had texted him ("See, right there,") asking him if he was at school.  Then he wanted to know if I'd give it back to him at the end of the period.  Turning it into the office was bad, because his mom couldn't pick it up until after she got off work at 7 PM. 

He eventually gave up the cell phone.  Then he left class.  I figured he went to the office to complain or something. 

The principal came by (during the bee incident) to retrieve the cell phone.  As I was busy, I didn't ask any questions. 

After 4th period I had lunch.  I stopped by the office.  The attendance clerk called me over. 

She wanted my side of the story.  The student's mother was there to pick up the cell phone.  It was time to compare notes. 

Did she text him?  She thought she might have asked if he had a ride home.  She didn't text to ask if he was at school.  She knew he was.  She dropped him off. 

The student's mother was glad her son decided not to take the suspension.  The reason the principal came to get the cell phone?  He thought the student might take it back without permission, triggering the harsher consequence. 

Why do these things become such high drama?  And this was only my first cell phone incident of the day. 

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

A Little Chaos

Today was one of those in-between days, weather-wise.  It wasn't terribly cold, but it wasn't too warm.  I kept the door open, and that kept the classroom temperature at about the right spot.  It's nice not to have to use the air conditioner sometimes. 

Then a bee flew in the room. 

It was fourth period.  The class was working quietly.  Well, all but this group of one boy and three girls.  I had been trying to get them to talk less and work more, but all I managed to do was annoy them. 

The boy was the one who spotted the bee.  He freaked out. 

One girl wanted me to close the door.  Another boy found a spiral notebook, and he went after the bee to kill it.  Of the talking group, the boy and two of the girls ran out of the classroom, standing just outside.  They were sure that they were going to get stung, and they refused to return to class until the bee was dealt with. 

Of course, that's when the principal came by. 

I managed to talk down the boy who wanted to kill the bee.  I explained to the girl that if we closed the door, the bee couldn't get out. 

The bee made its way back, landing just above the open door.  I was able to shoo it out using a piece of paper. 

The three students returned to class.  Someone shut the door.  Slowly, calm was restored. 

I don't know why they have to freak out so much about things like this.  Dealing with a bee in the classroom is hard enough without the distraction of having to calm the students, too. 

As for the principal, he came by because of a cell phone incident earlier in the period.  He didn't comment on the bee.  I guess I'm not in trouble. 

Monday, October 25, 2010

After the Break

I was surprised to get a call to work this morning.  Mondays have been rather dead lately.  But the continuation high school is back in session, so I shouldn't have been that surprised. 

The continuation high school has been out the past three weeks for their fall break. 

It's funny.  Every year in July and August (for I usually end up subbing for them then) the students complain about having to go to school in the summer.  I remind them that they get these nifty little breaks at different times during the year.  Everyone else has to go to school in October.  They don't. 

My arguments don't help.  However, I don't hear them complaining about getting a break now.  I haven't even heard them complaining about having to come back.  My guess is that I haven't been listening closely enough. 

I'm covering the whole week in the government and economics classes.  I've subbed for this teacher many times before, so I'm familiar with the routine.  And they are familiar with me.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Not Enough Time

Today I covered a biology class.  The teacher left three study guide worksheets for them to do.  The assignment was due at the end of the period.

Sometimes, teachers leave assignments that the students can't possibly finish, and they make it due at the end of the period.  I appreciate the consideration.  The teacher wants to make sure that the students don't have time to goof off and make trouble.

Unfortunately, the students haven't figured this out.  They seem to think that they have to figure out a way to finish all that work.  They seem to think that if they don't finish, they'll be penalized.

So, they figure out a way to get all the work done.

They break into teams.  Student one does one worksheet, student two does the second, and a third student does the third.  Then they swap and copy.

I know this trick.  I was on the lookout.

If they do it in teams, they finish in the amount of time that it takes to do one worksheet, and then they have that time to goof off.  The teacher needn't have bothered to put together the extra work.

I tried to tell them that if they didn't finish, it wasn't going to be the end of the world.  They just needed to do what they could get done.  The honors students didn't finish.  Some of the students in the regular classes did.

I did my best to catch the copiers.  At least I didn't have the behavior issues (well, I did in one class, but that's another story).

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

One Forgotten Detail

It was raining this morning.

When I got to the classroom juggling umbrella, school bag, sub book, and keys, I saw a post-it on the door.  I got in the classroom, unlocked the door, turned on the lights, and headed for the teacher's desk.  I found the lesson plans and read through them.

The warning bell rang.  One student came in.  Then another.  After I had a handful of students in the room, the next student who came in commented on how few students there were in the room.  Then someone else commented on that post-it.

Oops.  I meant to go back and remove it.

The post-it read that the teacher was in the computer lab.  We figured that much of the class must of ended up there.  I sent a student to go and retrieve them.

After the student left, the phone rang.  Yep, the class was there.  The computer lab person said she'd send them back.

The computer lab wasn't too far from the classroom.  The students returned quickly.  I heard comments that they had seen the lights on, but hadn't thought to come in.  A couple of them were embarrassed at the mix up.

I'm glad I'm not the only one.

So, I marked them all tardy...just kidding.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Check the Facts First

I got another one of those chain emails sometime last week.  I seem to get a lot of them, but I never send them on.  Chain emails come to my email box to die.  I deleted the thing and moved on.

Well, not so much.  That email started to nag at me.  So, I retrieved it from my deleted folder so I could share it here.  (I'm not working today, and I needed something to write about besides my knitting).
This October has 5 Fridays, 5 Saturdays and 5 Sundays, all in one month. It happens once in 823 years. These are money bags. Pass them to 8 good people and money will appear in 4 days. Based on Chinese Fengshui, whoever stops this will experience none.
Besides the obvious typo (feng shui is two words), that 823 years thing bugged me.  It didn't seem reasonable.

All that is required for the five Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays is for a 31-day month to start on a Friday.  (Any 31-day month is going to have five of three days of the week.  It all depends on when the 1st is.)  Are they trying to tell me that in a calendar with seven 31-day months, it's taken 823 years to have one of those firsts start on a Friday?

I don't think so.

Then I remembered that the October in any given year is exactly the same as the January.  January 1, 2010, was a Friday.

823 years?  Not even 823 days!

If someone is going to make up some random chain email to start, shouldn't that person at least try to make it plausible?  I mean, really!

Okay, rant over.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Conspiracy Theory

High schoolers can be so gullible.  They believe every crazy story that comes along.  I have had serious discussions with them about the chupacabra and the world ending in 2012.  No matter how I explain, they will not believe that these things are not real.

Thursday and Friday I covered shop.  Well, it was two periods of wood shop and four of computer graphic arts.  Because of safety issues (and theft issues), they had to do bookwork while their teacher was out.  They seemed to think that it was busywork, and most refused to do much of anything.  (It was busy work, but that doesn't mean that their teacher won't make it worth points.  In fact, I know he'll make it worth a lot of points, but that's a whole 'nother blog post.)

I spent most of the time walking the room and asking them to do something.  They had other things to talk about.

One student asked me if I was in the Illuminati.  The only thing I know about the Illuminati is that they were featured in Angels and Demons.  They don't really exist.  I said as much to the boy.

The boy explained to me that they are real, prevalent in rap music, and I should look it up on YouTube.  YouTube as a source?  Of facts?

Okay, so I looked it up, but only so that I could provide links.  But really?  They believe this stuff?

Then the boy told me about "Yes We Can" being...  Oh, you just have to go and see.  I can't type this with a straight face.

I took some time to explain how this reversing of audio has been done before.  I told them about "Paul is Dead".  How it was a hoax.  He thought my information interesting, but it didn't dissuade him from believing.  Sigh.

I left that group and went to talk to other students about, oh, I don't know, doing the assignment.  I had put this whole discussion out of my mind.  The next period came in and left.  Then another.  So it was later in the day when...

"Have you heard of the Illuminati?"

Different boy.  Different class.

"They don't exist," I said.

"Oh yes they do," the whole table told me in chorus.  They then all did this hand thing--holding both hands together with thumbs and fingers forming a diamond that they looked through.

I walked away very, very quickly.

The stuff that they believe!

Friday, October 15, 2010

In the Shower

It's that time of year again: Blog Action Day.

I spent a lot of time trying to figure out how I'd approach this year's topic: water.  I'm not sure what I have to say.  Then, while in the shower, it hit me.  (I do a lot of my best thinking in the shower.)  My shower has a "pause" feature.

I bought this shower head on purpose, because of the pause.

I live in Southern California.  We're in a perpetual state of water shortage.  (That's what we get for claiming so much desert.)  We're always hearing about various ways to conserve water.

One way is to take a navy shower.

Showers are my worst water wasting offenses.  I saw (on a show called I Want That!) a shower head with a pause feature.  I thought it brilliant.  Get wet, hit pause, soap up, turn water back on, rinse off, and repeat.  I had been on the lookout for one ever since.

Fairly recently (this year), I figured out that I had sort of a pause feature on the shower head I already had.  One of the spray settings was "off".  I did this for a while, but slowly it got harder and harder to switch the spray setting during the shower.  Then it broke entirely.  It wasn't made to do that, so I shouldn't have been surprised.

That's when I went out looking for a new shower head (it was a bit of an emergency then), and I chose the one with the pause feature on the packaging.

I'm not terribly impressed with it.  It's not so much a pause as a 50% reduction.  But at least it is some reduction, and every little bit helps.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Two Wrongs, Three Rights

Yesterday I covered a 7th grade math class.  After their warm-up, I was to go over any homework problems that they wanted to see done.  Every period requested the same 4 problems, so by the end of the day, I was pretty good at them.

For one of the problems, they had to divide two negative mixed numbers.  Before converting to improper fractions, I said to the class: "A negative divided by a negative is..."  This has been so ingrained that they replied with the correct, "A positive."

I did this so I wouldn't have to keep writing the negative signs.

But before I could go on to the conversion, one boy in the back asked, "Then why do they say two wrongs don't make a right?"

Interesting question.  That would have made an excellent discussion.  But I had been warned that this class could easily get off task, and they were 7th graders.  We would not have had a discussion.  We would have had a shouting match.

I know this from experience.  Classes that were as wound up as them (one boy thought it funny to get up and dance behind my back) would have veered way off topic, and we would have wasted the entire period.  They would have gotten what they wanted--not to do the worksheet assigned.

I replied to the boy: "That is not a math question.  Although, three rights do make a left."

Mistake.  They didn't get the reference.  (I wish I remember which comedian made that joke.)  And it took my stern voice to get them back to the question at hand.

I don't know why I bother to tell jokes in class.  I'm the only one that ever gets them.