Thursday, May 31, 2012

Nap Time

"We've had you before. Did you change your name?"

I get this all the time. I tell the students that my name is the same name I've always had.

"Last time you were here, you fell asleep in class."

Um, no, that wasn't me. While there have been times that I've been sleepy in class, I have never fallen asleep while teaching. Not during a class that had students. (Prep periods are a different matter.)

The student agreed that it might not have been me. The students mix me up with other adults all the time. That's okay. I mix them up sometimes too, so I don't take offense. But there was one thing that caught my attention...

A sub fell asleep in class? 

The student explained. They had a video. (This teacher often leaves videos with subs, although he didn't on this day.) And the students noticed that the sub had nodded off. But they said that they left the sub alone and "behaved".

I shudder to think.

I'm holding a contest. I'm giving away a water bottle carrier. Check out this post and comment there to win. Contest is open until next Wednesday.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

How Big Is Your Water Bottle?

I get these ideas. Sometimes they come to nothing, but other times I am able to take the idea and make something of it.  

Orange. My favorite.

It was about 15 years ago when I first stumbled across the water bottle carrier idea. I saw a pattern in a knitting magazine. I liked the idea, but I was not fond of the execution. I knew I could come up with something better.  

White goes with everything.

It took me a while (read: a couple years) to come up with a pattern that I liked. I decided that it had to be mesh-like. The best way to achieve this was to use crochet, but my crochet skills are nowhere near as well developed as my knitting ones. Eventually, I was able to make something that I liked.  

Kind of a bright green.

As you can see, I've been making a lot of them. So many that I've put them up for sale.  

Black goes with everything, too.

But I can't just do a blog post on the new merchandise in Zizi Rho Designs. That would be boring. There has to be something in it for you.  


Yeah, I'm going to give one of these carriers away. Well, not one of these, per se. I'm going to crochet one just for my winner, in the color and dimensions of the winner's choosing.  

To enter: All you need to do is to comment on this post, telling me the dimensions (either diameter or circumference of your water bottle and the bottle's height) in that comment. Oh, and your comment should link back to you in some way so I can contact you if you are my winner. 

(Make sure to specify which (diameter or circumference) you are measuring and tell me if you're measuring in inches or centimeters, please. I need to be able to make your carrier to fit your bottle.)  
Quart Carry Cases
It doesn't have to be a water bottle carrier. These carry home frozen yogurt quarts.
For bonus entries, help me promote the contest. Tweet it (make sure to include @ZiziRho so I know) or post it on Facebook (you can also like Zizi Rho Designs on Facebook if you are so inclined). If you wish to include it on your blog, I'll give you two bonus entries.  

The contest will be open until Wednesday, June 6th at 11:59 PM PDT (my time zone). Yes, I will ship internationally.

And tomorrow, more subbing stories! (Okay, who groaned?)  

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

It Wasn't Me

I often write about misbehaving students. My days are not so much filled with these kids as they are punctuated by them. Not all of them make the blog, though. Many days I find more interesting stories.

Aaron was difficult. He would not stop talking. And when he spoke, his voice was so loud that it started the rest of the class as well. The lesson plan specified that the class was to work quietly, so Aaron was not helping me out at all.

I checked to see what work he had done. Of course, he wasn't doing much of anything.

This is the sort of thing that goes in the note to the teacher. And it normally wouldn't make the blog. But then Aaron kicked it up a notch.

It was the end of the period, and the class had packed up and lined up at the door. Aaron was at the front of the line. So, of course he turned off the lights. Why every class must flip those switches I do not know, but it happens every day. Then the bell rang. And no one was moving.

Aaron had decided that it would be funny to hold the door shut so that no one could leave the room. In moments, the rest of the class voiced their displeasure. I called Aaron over to me so that we could have a little chat.

Aaron then released the door, and the whole class exited, including Aaron. I was glad he was gone, although his leaving without talking to me meant that had had disobeyed me again. This all went in the note to the teacher.

That was two weeks ago. I didn't consider this incident all that interesting, so I wrote about something else here.

On Thursday I covered this class again. The teacher called to leave lesson plans, and once we got talking, he knew that I was the last sub he had. He told me that Aaron had been punished for his misbehavior. At this point, I did not recall Aaron. It wasn't until I saw the student that I remembered what had happened.

Aaron came right up to me and explained that it wasn't him who had done all the things I said he had. Funny, the whole class called his name when they couldn't get out the door. He explained that he hadn't heard me tell him to come talk to me. At that point it didn't matter, though. Aaron was not going to spend the day in class. He was going elsewhere, and he was not pleased.

The class had a video this time. Aaron had to do bookwork.

With Aaron gone, I was home free, right? No, of course not. There was this one girl who would not stop talking, and when I stared her down, she stared right back at me, acting like she was doing nothing whatsoever wrong.


The joys of subbing.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Crocodile Crochet Stitch

Pinterest is dangerous.

It all started innocently enough. I was just browsing. Then I saw this.

It's the whole reason I learned to knit. I wanted to know how it worked. I didn't think that 20+ years later I'd spend all my time in front of the TV with a project in my hands.

And it still happens. When I see an interesting sweater or scarf, I wonder how it was made. If I can reverse engineer the thing, I can move on. But when I can't figure out how it was done, I must investigate. And I couldn't figure out how that crocodile scarf was done.

A little Internet search told me that it was a crochet thing. Okay, I can (sort of) crochet. And then I found this video...

It's 35 minutes long. I did not watch all 35 minutes. I watched enough to get the idea, and I was satisfied. But it got me thinking.

So, I've been playing with the stitch...

I'm having issues getting enough light, so apologies for the photo quality.
...and I think I've got the hang of it. Someday, this will be something. I just hope it'll be something really cool.  

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Kreativ Blogger Found Me

Tanya Reimer was kind enough to award me the Kreativ Blogger Award...

Of course, there are rules:
  1. Thank and link back to the person who awarded me.
  2. Answer the questions.
  3. Share ten random facts/thoughts about yourself.
  4. Nominate 7 worthy blogs.
Thank you, Tanya, for thinking of me. And as for the questions...  

What is your favorite song?
I don't know. I only listen to the radio, and I don't know what half the songs I hear are called, let alone who sings them. So, instead I thought I'd offer one of my favorite pieces, something that I played a few times in high school and in college. (I found this on YouTube. I don't know who the band is, but it's a pretty good version.)

I played this for the first time when I was in the 10th grade. The last time I played this I was in college, and that time I was first chair oboe, so that solo (duet with the clarinet) in the 2nd movement was mine. Extra points if you can identify the meter in the 3rd movement. And the 4th movement was always fun. While the woodwinds were in 6/8, the brass were in 3/4. It was a challenge to stay in time.

Ah, memories.

What is your favorite dessert?
Anything chocolate. Chocolate cake. Brownies. Ice cream. Frozen yogurt. All of it.  

What ticks you off?
Tailgaters. Telemarketers.

Black or white?
Depends on the application.

Which is/was your favorite pet?
Whichever one I have at the moment. 

What is your biggest fear?

What is your attitude, mostly?
Gratitude. At least, that's what I try for.

What is perfection?
That which cannot be achieved by those of us stuck in the physical.

What is your guilty pleasure?
Teen movies.

10 Random Things
  1. I need a knitting project. Everything on my plate right now is crochet.
  2. And when I say "on my plate" I mean literally. I have a large decorative plate on which I keep all my current working projects. It sits on the sofa table just behind where I normally sit, in easy access so all I have to do is reach behind me and pick up what I want to work on.
  3. I hate the word literally. If I could have avoided it in #2 I would have, but it worked so perfectly. Ah, well...
  4. I just backed up all my remaining photos from my phone. I say remaining because Lil Demon managed to delete a few. At least he didn't touch my eclipse photos.
  5. Lil Demon is 2. So, while I was upset, I didn't yell at him. (Well, I did have a moment of grrrr, but I didn't direct it at him.) And I will remember to be more careful in the future.
  6. Oh, and I didn't name him Lil Demon. That's his mother's doing. (She's taking a little blogging break. At least, I plan on getting her blogging again in the near future if I can manage it.) Hi, Heather!
  7. This is turning into a not-about-me random-10-things. So, I should talk about me. I'm not very good at talking about me.
  8. Seriously. In any group, I'm the one sitting in the corner, listening. I rarely contribute to the discussion unless I find I have something to say. I rarely have something to say.
  9. I'm a night owl. Yet, my job requires me to be up and out of the house by 6:30 AM. This is getting easier.
  10. Although, right now it's 1 AM. (I schedule posts to post at 8 AM.) Good thing it's the weekend. I don't have to be up early.  
It's late/early, and I'm a bit bleary eyed, so I'll nominate 7 worthy blogs later. If you haven't been awarded and would like to play, leave me a comment and I'll consider it.

And I'm going to leave you with one of the eclipse pictures from last week:  

I was lucky to have the cloud cover. It was just enough to be able to snap the shot. Happy Saturday!  

Friday, May 25, 2012


Wednesday was an odd day.

I got to school at about 12:15. (I was there for reentry.) As I pulled into the parking lot, I saw the entire office staff exiting the school. So, when I went into the office to check in, there was no one there to check me in.

(I had seen the flyer about the staff thank you lunch that was given that day. That's where they all went.)

Well, I didn't need keys. I left my time sheet there the previous day. So, I signed in (I know where they keep the book), and I went to the classroom.

The class has gotten larger since I was there last. The instructional aide was there, so she got things set up, and I did my usual sub thing. I helped. And things went pretty smoothly. At about 4, I took my usual break, heading up to the office to use the facilities and pick up my time sheet. (I need the time sheet. No time sheet, no get paid.)

It was later in the day, so most of the staff had already gone home. Unfortunately, the secretary who prepares my time sheet was also not there. (She's usually still at school at that time.) As her office door was open, I poked my head in. I found my time sheet on her desk. It was complete.

I retrieved my time sheet and went back to class. When I left at 6:30 PM (the end of class), the office was closed. (The office staff only works until 5:30. They get there at 8 AM.) So, I managed to work a day without formally checking in or seeing any of the office staff.

(Well, I did pass by the principal when I got there, and he was in his office when I went up for my break. And the office did have people in it when I got there--two teachers on their lunch break. So, it's not like I was a total ghost.)

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

No Time to Explain

At the end of 3rd period, I got a call to go and cover a 4th period on my prep. The class was on the other side of campus. It was a brisk walk, but I got to class on time. Then it was a brisk walk back so that I could get back to the class I was called to cover.

I was about halfway back to class when a student stopped me. She asked me if I had covered her class on Friday. Yes, I had.

Then the student asked me if I had been upset with the behavior of her 3rd period class. Something I wrote in the note to her teacher indicated this, and the class was made to write standards. The girl wanted to make sure that it was 3rd period that was the problem and not 4th.

I was running late, now. I wanted to get back to the class I was supposed to cover before the bell. (Although, I wouldn't get into trouble if I was a bit late. It's the principle of the thing.) I told the girl I didn't remember, and I got back on my way.

It wasn't a lie. I didn't remember. I try not to hold on to too much anger about any particular day. Unless something memorable happened, I might not recall things like how a class behaved generally. But once I had some time to think, I sort of recalled the class.

I rank the classes from best to worst every day. 3rd period was the worst. Of that day. Were they terrible? No. But I seem to recall that several of them didn't get very much done, and it wasn't a hard assignment. In comparison, 4th period took the assignment more seriously.

It's too bad the girl didn't catch me at a time when I could have stopped to talk. I suppose I should be able to recall these things more readily. Ah well.

Monday, May 21, 2012


When I got to class on Friday, the first thing I did was to peruse the lesson plans. The environmental science periods had an article to read and questions to answer. The biology periods had the end of year calendar review assignment (all the biology classes at that school do it). And then for the last period of the day, there were two words written: "tennis courts".


Not that I have anything against tennis. I just hate covering athletics.

It happens from time to time. There are quite a few teachers who coach something or other. When they have a sub that sub must cover all their classes, including the one that is outside where the kiddos play some sport.

If I'm lucky, there's some assistant coach who can take care of it. But much of the time, I have to go out and "supervise". It's more like I get to try to figure out where the coach meets his/her team, figure out how to make sure that attendance is taken, and then stand around for an hour while the team captain takes the students through some sort of practice.

This would all be easier if the coach would write more in the lesson plans. They don't. So, I'm left to scramble and try to figure out where to go and what to do.

On Friday, it wasn't too bad. The tennis courts were easy to find. The tennis team was done for the season, so they spent the period hitting a few tennis balls around.

Actually, it isn't all that bad, generally. Even the time I covered for the varsity football coach things went pretty smoothly (and those boys could have easily broken me in half). But there's something about being outside that I just don't like.

At least it's only one period out of the day. And it doesn't happen all that often.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Sort of Sorry

On any given day I take down all sorts of notes. Ideas. Things I'll tweet when I get Twitter access. Blog posts. World building. After a while, I have sheets and sheets of random stuff.  

I finally got around to going through one of these stacks, and I found these two letters of apology from students. They had been posted on the wall of a classroom, and as I had time (as the class was watching a video), I copied them. I figured I could use them as my blog post for that day until something more interesting happened. I filed the page away with my other notes.

As I have nothing interesting to post about today, I thought I'd (finally) share these. I've left off identifying names, but otherwise I copied the things word for word. Spelling, word choice, and punctuation are all theirs.
Hey Ms. A. I just wanna say sorry for every thing I put you through. Even tho I didnt throw anything I felt like you always blame me. I hope we can be cool again like we used to be before like when school started. You know I love you :D lmfno
From Your Student...
This next one I love for the P.S.S.
Dear Mrs. A.
Im sorry for being a complete excuse my language butthole. Cause a pretty woman like you should not be stressed out with horrible student's like I was. Now I have changed, Im going finally become the one thing I wanna be a supersmodel. But yes I am sorry Mrs. A you are awesome and pretty. And promise not to be mean anymore.
P.S.: Im sorry :)
P.S.S.: Can I have some blueberry pancakes?
I was actually kind of impressed with the grammar in these. While not perfect, I've seen such letters that are much worse. And even though these were handwritten, the emoticons were written in as they would have been typed.

By the way, does anyone know what lmfno stands for?  

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Blue is a Color

In 8th grade, the students take physical science. It's the end of the year, so it's time for the astronomy unit. The classes had questions dealing with the solar system.

As I made a circuit of the room, I noticed that one boy hadn't started working on his questions. At least he had his science notebook out, but it was open to a page with diagrams of atoms. I stood over him and I told him to get started. He needed to get out of the chemistry section and get to a page where he could do the assignment.

"This is my science notebook."

I told him I knew that. I needed him to open to a page in the astronomy section.

Again, he informed me that he had his science notebook. We did our "Who's on First" a couple more times before I realized what the problem was. His tablemates realized it at about the same time I did. First I had to shush them, as they weren't explaining things any better than I was. I searched for a way to explain.

"You are saying 'color' while I am saying 'blue'."

Finally, I got through to him. At my insistence, he flipped through his notebook and he found a different page. I stood over him to make sure he started writing something, and then I moved on to students who had questions about the assignment. (Questions that involved gravity. Cool!)

Later, I walked past his desk again. His notebook was still the page with the atom diagrams. Sigh.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

I'm a Hologram

As with most student conversations that lure me in, I joined late. The thing that caught my ear was the statement, "I'm a hologram."


Reggie was arguing with three other students. Reggie reminded them that Tupac was dead. The others disagreed. They all claimed that they were holograms too. (How this proved that Tupac was still alive did not get explained to me.)

Reggie touched one of them. He told them that if they were really holograms, his hand should pass right through them. Hands passing right through? The three started giving Reggie the proof he needed.

"See, it passed right through my hand."

Yep, the pencil did pass through the student's hand--between his fingers. He tried the trick again using another pen, but Reggie pointed out the obvious. The other student seemed to think his point was proven.

Then a second student showed how his finger went through a piece of paper. After he poked a hole through it.

Reggie was beside himself. I couldn't stop laughing.

"I can walk through that wall."

The door was open.

"See, that girl just walked through that wall."

She left the room to use the restroom. She left through the open door.

I told Reggie that it wasn't worth getting worked up about. He should enjoy the show as much as I was. (I normally keep a straight face when such things go on, but this time it was just so ridiculous that I couldn't.)

Eventually, the conversation turned and Reggie found other ways not to do the assignment. (They were to write two facts per page from their reading from the textbook. Reggie wrote: "Jupiter has gravity." I thought that was a bit general and vague.) The class ended without further reference to holograms...

Then, after lunch, I opened the door to let the students in. As students passed outside, I heard calls.

"I'm a hologram."

Okay. Fine. Whatever.


Monday, May 14, 2012

The Tattler

Thursday was the last day of state testing at the middle school. For the last class of the day, I covered a 7th grade English class while their teacher was getting the after school dance set up (along with the middle school leadership kids).

Ms. F warned me that the class could be a bit difficult. She left me a list of classrooms to send miscreants to. They had an assignment that they had to finish, and they were to remain in their assigned seats.

Once the class got to work, they weren't too bad. I didn't get a silent classroom, but then again I didn't expect one. Considering the warning I got, I was pleased with the volume level. While they weren't silent, they were pretty quiet.

Devin wasn't pleased. He called me over and told me that the class was too loud. No one should be talking.

Part of the assignment was to define terms. They were to use dictionaries. One student needed a dictionary, but all of them were being used. She asked if she could sit near a friend who had a dictionary so that they could share. I allowed it.

Devin wasn't having it. The girl couldn't sit there. It wasn't her assigned seat. He couldn't understand why I wasn't going after her. I explained about the dictionary, but this wasn't a good enough reason. So, since Devin wasn't going to be placated, I walked away and refused to defend my position any longer.

Eventually another dictionary freed up, and I moved the girl back to her assigned seat.

Devin called me over a couple more times. He didn't have questions related to the assignment. He wanted to tell me who was doing something wrong. And he wanted to tell me what I was doing wrong.

One of the things Ms. F wanted was a list of exceptional students. Everyone who got put on the list knew it. Devin wanted to know why I didn't put his name on the list.

I didn't explain. I didn't even know how to begin.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Imagining the Future

I wasn't going to post anything today, but then as I was getting into the shower (my thinking room) a whisper of a thought flitted through my consciousness. I almost lost it down the drain. Almost.

A while back (three or four months), I saw this show about Star Trek and how the fictional tech on the show has sort of come into being. Not spaceships or warp drive, but mp3 players and portable communication devices. It got me thinking. (I can hear that "uh oh". Don't try to deny it.)

What if we need people to imagine amazing things before they can be invented?

I know that the inventors imagine what they want to create before they are able to create it. What I'm asking is what if we need people to imagine the outlandish or out-of-left-field ideas? Can the act of imagining something that doesn't seem possible make it so that it can be invented?

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Not Expected

On Monday, my subbing book had a little sticky note on it. Inwardly, I groaned.

When we check in, we get a little book with information that I don't need and a key that I do. (The information includes a school schedule and a school map.) If the secretary included a sticky note, it meant she wanted me to cover an extra class on my prep period.

I inwardly groaned, but I accepted the extra class.

So, after the last student left 4th period, I locked the door and headed for the class I was to cover 5th. The teacher was there as was the teacher from next door. They both looked at me questioningly.

The teacher had asked his neighbor to cover his 5th period class. (The two of them do this all the time. They both teach computer classes.) Somehow, when the teacher told the secretary that he needed to leave school early, she took it to mean that she needed to get him a sub.

I was willing to leave, but the other teacher decided to go to lunch early. So, I stayed.

It was an easy class. HTML. Small group. They worked, I sat. Pretty much what I expected.

It is just so awkward to walk into a class and be a surprise. By now I should be used to it, but it still bothers me, every time.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Missing the Hint

Friday I was back at the continuation high school. I got to cover the opportunity class. (I've covered this class lots of times.)

It was the last period of the day. Another student came by to "visit".

This happened all day. Students popped in, said "hi", and left. Most wanted to see Ms. G, so when they saw that she was out, they turned around and left. This was fine by me.

This last student, however, didn't want to go. But his presence riled up the inmates. He couldn't stay.

Me: Where are you supposed to be?

Student: This is my 6th period class.

Me: It's 7th period. Which class should you be in for 7th period?

Student: I have permission to be here. See. (He held up his pass.)

Me: Okay, you have permission to be out of class, but you can't stay here.

Even after this, I still had to use the words, "I'm kicking you out," before he got the hint. (Although, at that point it was no longer a hint.)

Things didn't calm down that much after that, but at least I didn't have that one student irritating the other boys. (I think they were showing off for him.) Friday was a very long day.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Crocheting for Peace, Part 2

Last week I talked about my crocheted peace sign quest. I ended up getting something that was close, but it wasn't quite right... I put it away and focused on other things. But I still had the peace sign on the brain, so I used that as the theme for my blog post here. (Notice, none of these things are knit or crochet. I guess I'm the only one crazy enough to try this.)  

Then, it hit me. (Gee, that reminds me of a joke...) So, I changed things up and did something completely different...

That's more like it. Unfortunately, this won't work in the idea for the application that I had for it. Ah well...

Thursday, May 3, 2012

So Big

The universe is a big place. Really, really big. It takes us years to send probes to relatively close places, like Saturn. Getting farther out there to planets orbiting other stars might be possible, but at what cost? Which leads me to this week's random question:

What if the reason the universe is so vast is to keep us from trying to contact alien beings on other worlds?

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Begging for Volunteers

The assignment: read a current events article together as a class and then answer some questions based on the reading.

We were to read the article together because if we didn't, it was likely that the students wouldn't bother to read the thing at all. And I didn't pass out the questions, because I knew that if I did, most of the students would answer the questions while we were supposed to be reading the article together.

I know all this from experience. I knew that I was going to have to draw things out as there were only seven questions, and they were going to finish quickly.

Luckily, no one volunteered to read.

It's kind of scary to get up in front of a class in this situation. Most days, I can get someone to volunteer. If the class is small enough, I can just go up and down rows and make everyone read. But when I called for volunteers, they all just looked at me. No one made a move.

It wasn't like they couldn't. I have been in situations where the students did have reading issues. I try to be sensitive to that. But in this case, it was just inertia. No one wanted to do anything.

Eventually, I browbeat someone into reading. Then another long pause, and then someone else volunteered. I took some time to discuss the article, but I couldn't go into much depth as I was unsure of some of my facts (I didn't want to say something was true and find out later that I'd been lying to them).

We got about halfway through when someone asked if there were questions. Then they wanted me to pass them out, but I wasn't going to do that. We had to finish the article first.

After a while, we did get to the end. Even though it seemed like it took a long time, they still had ages to finish the questions. They got finished with everything quickly.

What I needed were index cards with everyone's name on them. Then I could shuffle and at random. I never can tell ahead of time if I'm going to get a group with eager readers or not.