Friday, May 31, 2013

Little Bug, Big Commotion

"Look what I found!"

It was snack. I made my usual restroom run, and I was on my way back to the classroom. The middle school boy pointed up. It took me a minute to see to what he was pointing.

Cockroach. Sitting near the top of a wall a good two feet over my head.

Unfortunately, cockroaches aren't an unusual occurrence. Besides, we were outside. So, after saying something, I continued on my way.


This sounded like the boy threw something (a shoe?) at the cockroach.

I kept on.

THUD! This time followed by screams.

A crowd gathered.

The middle school teachers stand around during snack much as the students do. Talking. Laughing. Eating.


I couldn't let that group think I ignored a potential problem. I can't appear to be a do nothing sub. I do pay attention. So, I headed towards the teachers who were heading for the crowd.


"Big one?"

"Oh, naturally."

"It came from my room." (This one from a social studies teacher. She had come out just as all this was happening.)

I have no idea if they managed to knock the bug down. The next class came in loud and very wound up. But I can't be sure if that was cockroach related or due to the fact that they knew we were having a fire drill in a very short time.

Or it could have just been that it was a minimum day.

Just about anything will get middle schoolers worked up.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

A Magical World

Thanks, Theresa, for suggesting today's question.

What if magic was possible in our world--has been possible all along? What if the only thing keeping us from doing all those things depicted in books or pictured in movies is our belief that magic is not possible?  

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

The Sunshine Award

...has been passed on to me by Sharon Himsl (just in time for June gloom, although we've been decidedly less overcast this year). Thanks, Sharon.

The rules (these things always have rules) are:
  • Feature a picture of the award on a blog post.
  • Answer 10 random questions about yourself.
  • Nominate 10 other bloggers. Be sure to link to their blogs and let them know.
The questions:
1. What inspired you to start blogging? 
Inspired? I don't know about inspired. When I found out blogging was a thing, I knew I would have one. It was the closest thing to writing a weekly newspaper column that I could do since I'm not a journalist.
2. How did you come up with the name of your blog?  
It's kind of a long story that I've already written on my About Me page. (Now that I look at the page, I see it's time to do some updating. But the blog name stuff is still accurate.)  
3. What is your favorite blog to read?  
I have to name one? Well, if I need a good laugh, I can be assured of one at The "Blog" of "Unnecessary" Quotation Marks
4. Tell us about your dream job.  
Still figuring that one out. I'll get back to you...
5. Is your glass half-full or half-empty?
Half-full, I hope.
6. If you could go anywhere for a week's vacation, where would you go?  
At the moment, I'd love to go to Vegas. Or maybe just a drive up the coast. Well, anywhere away would be ideal...
7. What food can you positively not eat?  
One food? I'm such a picky eater that this is a pretty large list. But if I'm going to go for one, anything containing caffeine. Yep, that means coffee. And soda. Unless I really, really want a massive headache...
8. Dark chocolate or milk chocolate?  
Milk chocolate 
9. How much time do you spend blogging?  
The sitting and typing part--maybe an hour for the week. Tops. But I spend a lot of time planning away from the computer before I sit down and do the actual typing part.
10. Do you watch TV, and if so, what are your favorite shows? 
Um, yeah, I watch a little TV.
Favorites? Yikes. I can't wait for fall for Once Upon a Time, The Good Wife, Vampire Diaries, and Arrow to come back. Orphan Black and Defiance I'm enjoying. I'm looking forward to the imminent start of Burn Notice and The Glades. And there are about a dozen others that escape my memory at the moment.
Don't get me started talking about TV. I won't stop.

As for passing the award on, I'm giving it to you. Yes, you reading this. Unless you've been awarded it already.  

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Publicly Punished

The middle school has one two-story building. On my way to the upstairs classroom, I encountered a crowd on the stairs. This is generally frowned upon, but as my mind was on other things, I paid it little thought.

As the 8th graders meandered in, it was clear something had wound them up. Conversations clued me in that something was going on besides the minimum day.

One of the girls (without much prompting) explained.

Kayla stole an iPod out of a PE locker. She got caught. Was suspended.

That morning as everyone filtered in, Kayla stood out in front of the school holding a sign explaining her crime. The girl made sure to note that the sign's final statement said something about honking for Kayla. (The girl thought the honking bit was too much.)

The crowd on the stairs? They had a perfect vantage point to watch Kayla.

This surprised me. I didn't think the school's administration went for this sort of thing. The girl said that Kayla's father stood beside her, watching the whole thing.

Oh. It was the parent's idea.

That's kind of diabolically clever.

Kayla returned to school the next day. I made no mention of the incident, but another student did. Kayla looked chagrined, holding her binder over her face. But only one student mentioned it, and the embarrassment lasted less than a minute.

So, what do you think? Clever punishment? Unnecessary humiliation?

Monday, May 27, 2013

Makeup for the Arms

"Are you crying?"

I sat in the front of the room, my hands covering my nose and mouth. My shoulders shook. Interesting how that's where her mind automatically went.

"No. I'm laughing."

I indicated the group on the other side of the aisle.

What drew my attention was a strange statement: "You put on makeup every day and wash it off every night. Your parents must be shocked!"

Note: This was a high school class. Mostly juniors and seniors. So, girls wearing makeup--kinda normal.

After about a minute of my attention, I got the gist of the conversation.

The boy was planning on writing on his arms. In his mind: washable markers=makeup. The girls disagreed.

And I thought the whole conversation ridiculous. Or totally brilliant.

What some students do rather than the assignment...

Friday, May 24, 2013

Not Going Visiting Again

First period, 8th grade science. A student walked in. He said he was looking for the teacher, but when he didn't find her he "needed something" from a student in class. And I instantly remembered him.

Remember a few weeks back when I covered an 8th grade science class for a week and a day? He came "visiting" several times. I think I saw him daily. A couple times each. Floating into class. Talking to other students. And making a nuisance of himself while I tried to get the class under control.

I gave Richard two minutes to get whatever it was and then I kicked him out. Funny, but I didn't see anything change hands. In fact, it looked like he was just shooting the breeze with the student he "needed something" from.

Richard returned third period. He explained that he needed the day's assignment because he wasn't going to be in class today. I pointed out the assignment on the board and kicked him out again.

Richard returned fourth period. This time, it was because he was enrolled in the class. It was before the bell, but he needed to "get something" (he said his binder) from another room. Figuring he could make it there and back in a minute or so, I let him go. He wandered in to class five minutes after the bell.

Ten minutes later he approached me. He was hungry and needed something to eat. He asked if he could go to the vending machines to get something.

I said no.

Was he telling me the truth? Possibly. But considering the history, there was no way I was letting him out of class again. Besides, I reminded him that lunch was right after, and he had less than an hour before he got time off to eat.

Five minutes later Richard needed to use the restroom.

It was maybe ten minutes later when Richard begged for a restroom pass again.

Now Richard was sure I hated him. I explained that since he had been roaming, I wasn't going to let him out of class.

Lunch came and went. Richard returned. (Did I forget to mention that he had the teacher for two periods? One period was math, the other science.)

We were in class maybe ten minutes, and Richard asked to go to the vending machines. I was shocked. Why hadn't he eaten at lunch? He explained he had lunch detention.

No, I did not let him go. I know, I'm mean.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Once Upon a Time...

I'm a big fantasy fan. Other worlds. Other possibilities.

Science posits the existence of other worlds, be them extrasolar planets or parallel universes. Places that we can't reach (yet?). Or can we?

What if we can "sense" these other worlds? What if the fictional realms "created" by writers actually exist somewhere we can't physically reach?  

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Water Bottle Carrier Pattern

It's been a while since I posted a pattern. I thought it was about time I did so again. I have shown off my water bottle carriers before...

The pattern is fairly simple. (If you're not a crocheter but would like one of these, I sell them in my Etsy shop, Zizi Rho Designs.)


  • Worsted weight yarn (I've made this with various yarn brands)
  • Size I hook
  • Tapestry needle


16 sts and 7 rows over the mesh pattern for the bottle (1 dc, ch 1 repeated over number of stitches every row)

Start at the bottom:

Chain 3. Slip stitch into beginning chain making a loop.
Round 1: Ch 3 (counts as 1st double crochet), then work 9 more double crochets into ring (total 10 dc in ring). Slip stitch into top of ch 3 at beg. of round.
Round 2: Ch 3 (counts as 1st dc). Work another dc into that space. Then work 2 dc into each dc from previous round (total 20 dc). Sl st into top of ch 3 from beg. of round.
Round 3: Ch 3 (counts as 1st dc). *Work 2 dc into dc from prev. round, work 1 dc into next dc, repeat from * ending with a 2 dc into dc from prev round (total 30 dc). Sl st into top of ch 3.
Round 4: Ch 3 (counts as 1st dc). Work a dc into back loop only of every dc from previous round. Sl st into top of ch 3.

Mesh pattern:

Ch 3 (counts as 1st dc). Work 2 dc. (Dc, ch 1-skip one stitch) repeat 5 times (leaving 6 open spaces). Work 3 dc. (Dc, ch 1-skip stitch from below) repeat 5 times. Sl st into top of chain 3.
What you should end up with is four dc, six open spaces, four dc, and six open spaces.

Work body:

Rounds 5-11: Work mesh pattern
Rounds 12-14: Work sc into each dc and chain space from previous round
Rounds 15-17: Work mesh pattern
Rounds 18 & 19: Work sc into each dc and chain space from previous round

Note: The number of mesh rounds and be increased or decreased depending upon size of bottle you're planning on using. This pattern was created to be long enough for about a one-liter bottle. 

Leave the last slip stitch on the hook.

Make strap:

Ch 1 (does not count as sc). Sc into same space as ch 1. Sc into the next 3 sts. Turn.
Repeat previous row: 4 sc across row, turn. Work this row until strap is desired length. 

Note: Since this strap is rather stretchy, make sure to take that into account as you're working the strap. 36 inches is a pretty good cross body length.

When strap is desired length, cut yarn leaving about an 8 inch tail, and secure final loop. Using tapestry needle, sew strap (careful not to twist) to the opposite side of carrier where the column of four double crochets meet the top.

(Yes, you could slip stitch the strap to the other side, but that leaves a seam, while sewing the strap to the other side does not.)

Then all that's left is to wind in the ends.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013


Art academy. It's one of those days where I find a comfortable place to sit and hope I have something interesting to read. The day went much as expected.

Then, in third period, the teacher next door poked her head in (all the art classrooms were connected on the inside). She had been told to keep the students in class at the bell (we had about five minutes until the end of the period). We weren't on lockdown, but the students weren't to leave.

So, third period ended, fourth period started, and we waited. Since there hadn't been a formal announcement over the PA, I wasn't terribly concerned, expecting them to let the students go at any moment. The students kept themselves entertained.

It was a digital art class, so it was a computer lab. A bunch of the students took group pictures via their computers. Many sat and talked. I watched, making sure they didn't get into anything that they shouldn't. (They didn't.)

One of the girls approached me. She told me that she had just gotten a text from her mother. The mother had been informed (via a system that keeps parents apprised of school situations--generally used so that parents can track their student's grades throughout the semester) that the school was on lockdown. For an "unknown substance" found in the office. And that law enforcement was on campus.


As a sub, I don't get district email, so I had no way of getting this information. (A definite flaw in the system.)

They finally lifted the lockdown. Fourth period lasted about fifteen minutes, so the lockdown wasn't too long. And then the rumors started flying.

One girl said that her mother had told her to break out a window and make a run for it. Others talked of differing cell phone policies--some teachers let the students call their parents, others enforced the no cell phone rules. (I didn't make a decision on cell phones. I did not actually see any of them on their phones, so it hadn't come to that.)

As for the reason for the lockdown, I heard many different stories. Eventually I got what I think is the truth: administration searched a student for drugs; the "substance" thought to be drugs wasn't. (Now, embellish that, and you'll get an idea of the rumors.)

Monday, May 20, 2013

My Shameful Addiction

I don't lose things usually. I get the same number of socks from my dryer as I put in. I replace pens when they run out of ink. I always know where my car keys are.

Last Monday they forecast temperatures in the 90s, so I pulled out my capris. Briefly, I thought I should put my lip balm in my little lip balm clip
Shameless product plug: You can buy one of these from me...
but ultimately decided against. It's not like I'd lose it.

Am I the only one with a lip balm addiction?

I'm sure by now you know where I'm going with this. I got into the classroom, and after checking the lesson plan I checked my pockets (nervous habit). The pocket which should have held my lip balm was empty.

Oh, the horror!

The classroom was at the back of campus. The lip balm could have fallen out of my pocket just about anywhere. I retraced some of my steps, but first period was just about to start and it was already getting hot.

I suffered through the day. (At least the air conditioning worked. And worked well.) Checked out with the office. Got back to my car...and there was my lip balm on the ground just outside my driver's side door.

Found it!

My nearly perfect record (there was that time I lost my wallet) remains intact.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Ace in my Pocket

There's something about seeing a sub that makes some students turn off. Especially at the continuation high school.

Mr. H is not a popular teacher. He's strict. He requires his classes to work silently. And they resent him for it. So, when I show up, the class relaxes (read: I can't get them to do anything).

Actual student quote: "A sub? Good. I'm not going to do any work today."

But as luck would have it, it was Thursday. At the continuation high school.


I explained that if they wanted me to sign their buyouts, they had to do the work. And finish. (I've had students do one or two questions and think that's enough.)

But of course some students can't buy out. The student who said the above? Didn't do any work. Also, he didn't have a buyout.

Every student who had a buyout, however, did do the work. So, it was a win for me. Sort of.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Illusory Question

I'm going to keep it fairly simple today:

What if everything but you was an illusion? How did that happen? Why?  

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Any Excuse

There are certain classes I dread covering. In this particular math class at the continuation high school, the students rarely do any work. (The teacher assigns work. And he tries to keep the students in line. But they've decided that this is the class where they won't do anything, so they don't.)

I passed out the assignment. Offered my assistance. (It's math. I can handle just about any topic.) Then I took my usual perch.

As per normal, they ignored the assignment. Suddenly, the lights went out.

I took a quick inventory. The sky outside was cloudy, but there was enough light in the room to see. They were doing worksheets, so their assignment required no electricity. They could continue "working".

"We can't do anything now. There's no power."

Not that they were doing anything before. I pointed out that they could do their assignment perfectly well even without power.

Less than a minute later, the power came back on. Crisis averted?

Friday, May 10, 2013

Surreptitous Station Switch

I don't know why this is, but students seem to work better when they have music playing in the background. They're not allowed to listen to their mp3 players at school (school rule), but when they do, they tend to mellow and focus on their work. (Not that I've ever looked the other way when students surreptitiously slip earbuds in as they're doing their work or anything.)

Math class. Ms. P keeps a radio in the room. The students all asked if we could have it on while they were doing their assignment. (Algebra 2 class. The assignment was about arithmetic and geometric sequences.) As this wasn't the first time I'd covered this class nor the first time they'd asked for the radio, I figured this was a normal occurrence, so I allowed the music.

I turned off the radio for passing period, though. It's distracting to have commercials in the background as I do my normal intro and get the class going with the assignment.

After the intro in fourth period, a student walked over to the radio. I had almost forgotten it, so I didn't think anything of a student turning the radio on. But, he was there for an awfully long time. The power button isn't that hard to work.

So, I wasn't surprised when the radio was tuned to a different station. I walked over and found the radio tuned to Power 106.

I've done the radio on in the background before. It can turn into a battle between factions in class. My solution in this case was to leave it on the station that Ms. P leaves it on all the time. I worked the tuning button.

Another student observed what I was doing. He chided the other student for turning the station. "We normally listen to 102.7," he told me.

Nice try. But nope, they normally listen to Jack FM. At least, that's the station the radio was tuned to first thing in the morning. And the last three times I've covered the class. (I've met their teacher. She seems like a Jack FM person.)

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Enhanced Interrogation?

Usually, I find I need a long winded explanation to set up my "what ifs". But I think that today's question benefits from no setup whatsoever. 

What if someone (or something) figured out a way to make you think you had dementia as a way to extract information from you?

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

I Want a Blogging Social Network

Add this to the list of things I really, really want but don't have the technical skills to make a reality.

We all know Google Reader is going away. This is a bad thing for those of us who try to keep up with a plethora of different blogs. By far, the RSS thing is the best way we have of keeping track. But the more I think about it, the more I notice that the RSS system has some serious flaws.

Keeping up with commenting is tedious. For every blog I comment on, I have to click on it from my reader, wait for the everything to load, wade through the other comments, and then post my comment.

Then, if I want to check on follow ups, I have to remember which blogs I commented on, go back to the old posts, wade through the comments... More often than not, I don't go back.

But this thought hit me the other day. What if there was a better way? What we need is a blogging social network.

Imagine. A reader-like system where you could make your comments. Have those comments appear on the blog you want them to appear on. Then, it would keep track of the fact you commented, and it would notify you of any follow up comments.

Yes, I know there are plenty of social networks out there. You can upload your blog. Follow others. But they don't really play well with blogs. Not in the way I'd like them to, I mean. Because, while you can make a comment on the social network, it's separate from the blog itself. And the system I want should integrate with the blogs.

If I had a modicum of computer programming know how, I'd be working on the coding right now. But since I don't, I'm putting it out there. Would someone please make a system like this for me?

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Not an A Student

It's standardized testing time.

This makes for kind of a long day. They had a three hour and fifteen minute testing block followed by three full period classes. By the end of the day they're kind of wiped out.

This day's assignment was a simple read-the-article-and-answer-questions in an environmental science class. I explained the assignment, passed out the article, and looked around for trouble.

One student wasn't even making a pretense of doing anything. When I asked him, he explained that he was tired. I understood. I explained that it was an easy points assignment, and that if he needed help, I was available.

"I don't need the points. I have an A- in this class."

A girl sitting right in front of me snorted. The boy didn't notice. The girl told me that the only As in the class belonged to her and the two students who sat around her--the only three who ever did any work in the class. Apparently, Mr. A- never did any work. Ever.

This was not a surprise to me. A-students tend to not announce the fact. You can tell who they are by their work ethic. They're working.

Mr. A- looked familiar to me. Not in a good way. But I think it's about time I learn his name. I have a feeling I'll be seeing a lot more of him. At the continuation high school. In the near future.

Friday, May 3, 2013

That A to Z Challenge Reflections Post

This was my first year doing the A to Z Challenge. My thoughts:

Things that worked for me

  1. Posting. I usually post five times a week, so adding Saturdays (which I decided would be an easy post-a-photo day) wasn't much of a stretch.
  2. Visiting five new blogs a day. In my mind, this meant comment on five new blogs a day, so that's what I did. 
  3. Comment back. Yep, I managed to make it back to most of those that commented on my blog.
  4. The letters kind of fell into place (which I discussed on the 24th: Unexpected Connections). 

My fails

  1. Link back signature. I know. We were told to do this early on. But I checked to make sure the Google thingie linked back to my blog, and it does. Still, I should have done this and didn't.
  2. Blog hop hosts. I followed the blogs. I perused the headlines in Feedly. But most days I didn't get to their blogs. I should have, I know, but keeping up with everything else... Something had to give, and it was them.
  3. My comments were pretty weak all around.
  4. April 25th. I managed to visit and comment on five new blogs every blogging day except. (Birth in the family.) To make up for this, I hit ten new blogs on the 26th.


  1. Captcha. I only encountered a couple blogs that had this still on. But I only learned this after writing out my comment, and by then I was kind of committed to getting it posted. (I didn't go back to those blogs, though.)
  2. Unable to comment back. A couple bloggers' Google log ins go to their Google + page, which made it hard to find their blogs. And they (like me) didn't include a link in their comment. 
  3. "Read More". Some blogs only had a short intro, and then you'd have to click through to get to the whole post. Why? 
In previous years, I skipped the challenge but felt so left out. I'm glad I did it this year. I stumbled across some great blogs that I would not have discovered otherwise. (I ended up at #445 and managed to make it to #623 on the list.)

But I'm so glad this only lasts a month.  

So, how'd you do? If you didn't participate, are you thinking about jumping in next year? If you did, are you going to do it again?  

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Devil in the Details

This was originally going to be my question for April 4th, but then I got a brainstorm to use something else. But now that April is over, I'm back to scrambling for "what ifs" so here it goes...

It's a popular trope in a certain sort of fiction. The deal with the devil. You sell your soul for some prize. A publishing contract. The love of your crush. Wealth. Success.

In the end, you lose, of course. The devil gets you. Somehow. But what does the devil get out of this?

What if the devil has a quota of deals he has to close? What if he meets that quota? What if he doesn't?  

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

A Sub for a Sub

When I walked into the secretary's office to check in, she was on the phone with the sub caller. She was discussing me and why I had been given a certain assignment.

Apparently, I was in for a long term sub. For the day.

It was a math class. The long term sub had left me lesson plans. So, I was well prepared. But it threw the kids for a loop.

I guess it never occurred to them that a sub might need a day off. Their teacher had been out for a while (maternity leave). I explained that this was not a "changing of the subs". Their sub needed the day for whatever reason, and she would return tomorrow.

The long term sub is doing a good job with them. They have not gone wild. So, for me it was just like any other sub day. I took roll, gave the assignment, and watched to make sure they stayed on task.